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  • A Modest Proposal

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on June 25th, 2019 (All posts by )

    Like an unkillable zombie, or Freddy Kruger returning for the umpteenth time, the matter of reparations for slavery shambles out of its’ crypt on a periodic basis. The whole concept has, I surmise, a catnip-like appeal for a certain kind of politician or intellectual, when catering to the never-to-be-satiated ‘gimme that!’ crowd. “Reparations for slavery!!!!!!!!Eleventy!” gets slapped down by practical considerations about as often as Freddy Kruger … and yet, it staggers out one more time. Never mind that current estimations are that maybe only 5 % of the current American population owned slaves pre-Civil War (and not all of that 5% were white, either). Never mind that a good chunk of the then-American population bitterly opposed the institution of chattel slavery of Africans, never mind that we fought a mind-bogglingly bloody war to end it. Never mind that that any surviving pre-1865 slave or slave-holder would have to be well over a century and a half old. Never mind the sheer obscenity of demanding that rich, successful, privileged PoC’s like Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover, and Barack Obama deserve a check for ancestral pain and suffering from working class and poor whites (whose’ families may not even have arrived in the US until well after 1865).
    In response to this demand, I put forth a modest counter-proposal, acknowledging that yes, IF there should be reparations paid in this day for the institution of chattel slavery, for the malignant practices of the Jim Crow laws, and local law-enforced racial segregation, and the depredations of the KKK, which cruelly impacted Black Americans, such reparations ought to and should be paid by the Democrat Party.

    Democrat party stalwarts embraced slavery, to the point of rebellion and formal withdrawal from the United States. The KKK brutally oppressed freed slaves after the war in the 19th and early 20th century, as well as persecuting white activists who bravely chose to support civil rights. Indeed, a long-time Democrat stalwart, Senator Robert Byrd, functioned as a local-level officer in the KKK early in his political career and the Birmingham, Alabama director of Public Safety, one Eugene “Bull” Connor – quaintly described in Wikipedia as “international symbol of institutional racism” – was also a long-time Democrat Party politician on the local level. In contrast, the Republican party was founded to specifically oppose slavery as it was practiced and continued supporting civil rights for all citizens throughout the turmoil of the 1960s. No – there was no grand switcheroo after that period, wherein all the racists and anti-racists in the respective parties obligingly bed-hopped to the other; that is a transparent attempt by the current Democrat Party to escape institutional responsibility for the crimes against Black Americans committed in the 19th and 20th century.

    I expect that there will need to be some adjustments made to this proposal; such as members of the Democrat Party who registered as such within the last twenty or thirty years may apply for an exemption. Still, I believe that as the prospect of reparations will not die – we seriously consider this Modest Proposal. Your suggestions and amendments are most welcome as part of a civilized discussion of this matter.

     

    28 Responses to “A Modest Proposal”

    1. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      We have to start back at the beginning: Who enslaved the slaves? We know the answer to that question — it was other Africans, who enslaved their enemies and sold them to European (primarily English) traders to ship them across the Atlantic, mostly to the Caribbean and South America.

      So who should pay reparations? The people who benefitted from the slave trade, or their descendants. If anyone today wants reparations for what happened to their ancestors, take it up with the rulers in Africa and with the Queen of England.

      There are also reparations due to the descendants of those who fought to free the slaves — which naturally should be paid by the descendants of the slaves.

      The Democrat leadership really is disgusting!

    2. Grurray Says:

      $22 trillion have been spent on welfare programs since 1965 with little to show for it. Changing the name to reparations won’t magically make it more effective.

    3. MCS Says:

      A few minutes ago I read some story that mentioned that Biden was being criticized for cooperating with Eastman and describing Eastman as a “Dixiecrat”. This is a bald faced lie. At the time Eastman was a Democrat and had been since the Dixiecrats fizzled out in 1948, the same year it was founded.

      When is someone going to ask Biden why he decided to join the party of segregation? The battles of Civil Rights were still ongoing and the major battles less than a decade in the past in the 70’s, he can hardly claim ignorance. I’m not going to hold my breath.

    4. MCS Says:

      Damn! meant Eastland.

    5. Mike-SMO Says:

      The slaves in Africa, sold to Europeans were already slaves because of debt (financial or social, disorganized and misfits) or because they commited crimes. From the 19th Century in Nigeria:

      https://www.newyorker.com/culture/personal-history/my-great-grandfather-the-nigerian-slave-trader

      With that particular “founder population”, social “difficulties” in the descendants are not too surprising.

      Early slaves included “POWs” from the West African tribal wars and wars of empire [e.g. The Maroons of Jamaica.]. Those were dangerous and close to useless as labor. There were, of course. some “normies” who were “kidnapped” by other Africans. The current “problems” most likely come from a Western Hemisphere “founder population” “enriched” in debtors (misfits) and criminals.

      The United States paid for participation in the long established African slave system in blood and treasure during our Civil War (War between the States). That was enough. The “problems” are not due to the experience of slavery or the attitudes of other Americans since that Civil War.

      If folks want to try for reparations, they might try for Nigeria, Ghana (Gold Coast), or the Congo. The Black Afro-American students of Cornell University wanted fewer “international” minorities since those seem to get decent grades, interview well, and are successful in careers. The “international” minorities and Afro-Americans may both have originated from the same general geographical region but they are not the same “population”.

      England clearly had different criteria when “recruiting” people for transport to Australia.

    6. CapitalistRoader Says:

      Seven out of the top ten richest Americans are Democrats and one of the remaining three is Michael Bloomberg. Those eight folks have a combined net worth of $600 billion. If they were to donate just 1/2 of their net worth to a reparations fund, $300 billion divided by 48 million US African Americans is $6250. Expand the voluntary donation program to the 100 richest Democrats and each African American could receive $10,000 easily. An added benefit would be those donating Democrats deciding who is eligible to receive reparations instead of some government entity.

    7. Mike K Says:

      The Black Afro-American students of Cornell University wanted fewer “international” minorities since those seem to get decent grades, interview well, and are successful in careers. The “international” minorities and Afro-Americans may both have originated from the same general geographical region but they are not the same “population”.

      I have thought for years that slaves were a selected population, probably losers in tribal wars. They were obviously from West Africa for reasons of geography. There are still tiny fortified islands along the west Africa coast that were slave holding pens until the slave ships came in.

      I have not seen good studies of the native Africans, in such things as blood pressure. Were slaves selected for salt retention in the slave ships and does that affect the hypertension incidence among African-Americans?

      Obviously, IQ studies cannot be done.

    8. Anonymous Says:

      The Fed already *did* “slave reparations.”

      They named their country “Liberia.” Which they turn turned into even more of a festering mess than it was before, but hey, it was their own sovereign nation to do with as they wished…

      If their ancestors chose not to avail themselves of the government’s largesse, well, that’s not my problem. Or the problem of any people who never owned slaves, or didn’t come to America until after the war, or weren’t even born. Which is, unless there are some Methusalahs wandering around, everyone.

    9. Dan from Madison Says:

      I’ve always wondered where this puts me, an older white guy.
      1/4 Irish
      1/4 English
      1/4 German
      1/4 Latvian
      The German and Latvian parts didn’t get here until the 20th century and were not slave owners as far as I know lol. The Irish and English parts have been here in the US for a very long time (I am somehow distantly related to President Adams – not Quincy) but I haven’t heard anything about slave ownership. So does someone have to prove that those Irish and English ancestors owned slaves for me to have to pay in? And since 1/2 of me didn’t get here until much later, do I get a discount? Of course, these questions are impossible to answer but that doesn’t matter to the reparations hucksters. Everyone knows what it is all about.

    10. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Exactly, Dan – it doesn’t matter to the hucksters. It’s something they can wave in front of the “gimme that!” crowd. 3/4 of my ancestry didn’t even get here until the 20th century, and the 1/4 of mine who did get here early on … well, they were Quakers and fire-eating abolitionists. Would I get a discount? What about those who had an ancestor in the Union Army, who was disabled or killed – what would their discount amount to?

      We’ve been pointing out the folly of reparations to the hucksters for years. I think it’s time to counter-attack and demand that members of the Democrat Party, present and descendants of past Democrats pony up their share for having backed slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation. It’s only fair.

    11. Kirk Says:

      @ Mike K, 09:45.

      RE: Your point about the African slave “selection” process reminds me of a story I may have told here before, but I’ll repeat it.

      Closest I think I ever came to participating in a race riot during the last half of my active duty time in the Army was precipitated by a couple of Nigerian-born actual black Africans.

      We were doing one of those interminable “sensing session” deals, with the usual agit-prop Equal Opportunity NCO leading the “self-critcize the white man” session. He called on the junior-ranking Nigerian to validate his line of BS about the “Man” keeping the black man down.

      The earful he got from that Nigerian Specialist Fourth Class was… Memorable. He was pretty much done with American blacks, and he lit into the entire group, chapter and verse. He pointed out case after case of things, like how they wasted money, didn’t take advantage of the educational opportunities in the Army, and were generally thieving, nasty, untrustworthy brutes. He had some history, which he recounted–His father had come to America with a small fortune, and established a store in the ghetto, which was bankrupted by the locals shoplifting and stealing everything. His father was killed during an armed robbery, one of about twenty they endured. He did not have a single good thing to say about American blacks.

      Then he put the capper on it all: “You know, most of your ancestors were sold to the white man because you were bad slaves, useless and lazy… I have seen the records we kept in my tribe…”.

      Somebody then asked the other Nigerian, an officer, what his opinion on the matter was, seeking for him to deny what had been said. He looked thoughtful, and said that he had to agree, reluctantly–He too, had heard the oral traditions about who it was who was sold on to the white man.

      Picture, if you will, a large classroom, filled with somewhere near a hundred soldiers, with maybe 30-40 black guys in the front of the room, all of whom are livid, about another 20-30 Hispanic dudes who are lapping it all up, and every single white or Asian guy edging for the back doors before all hell breaks loose. I’m sitting there, trying to figure out how the hell we’re gonna get the Nigerians out of there without getting someone killed, and the whole place descended into bedlam.

      One might not want to ask the question “Why did you sell us to the white man…”, when you go to Nigeria. You’re probably not going to get the answers you want.

    12. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      OK, from the perspective of someone who is primarily Chinese and German; both sides of the family having arrived post-Civil War [German side in the 1880’s, Chinese just in time for the Great Depression] as far as I know no one in my family has owned slaves [or if they did they may well have been Chinese slaves long ago].

      Let me toss out a thought, admittedly for the nefarious purpose of fecal agitation.

      Assume a debt does exist, and let us further assume that since we cannot accurately differentiate which Blacks in this country have African slave ancestry IN THIS COUNTRY. Slaves of the Spanish, French, Portuguese, et. al. dating from before 1865 have no claim on the United States for compensation. I offer the postulate that anyone of African ancestry who entered this country or who was born after this year be excluded from any concept of reparations. That probably will not be accepted by the Left, but just to simplify.

      So let us assume that there is a class action tort claim based on historical treatment of persons of African ancestry within American territory from September 3, 1783 [The Treaty of Paris which recognized that America was no longer British. Claims before that are a British liability.] to June 23, 1865 when the last Confederate forces surrendered. An argument could be made for an end date of Feb. 3, 1870 when the 15th Amendment was ratified. I will leave that for the lawyers and politicians to fight out.

      There may be an argument made that the entire history of the country is an intolerable tort against anyone of African ancestry. Once again that can be fought out. And will be subsumed in the point I am about to offer.

      Reparations are by definition an act to make the victim of the tort whole for the actions of another party. It is a quid pro quo. Involved in that is almost surely a legal agreement that acceptance of the reparations is a quit-claim by the victim against any further claims against the offending party. The acceptance of the reparations means that the offending party owes the victim nothing more, ever again.

      At this point, there is no one alive in this country or anywhere else who was a slave under United States or Confederate States jurisdiction; the 15th Amendment having been ratified a century and a half ago. All claims of tort, of mistreatment, are by those who can only claim descent from slaves. All of which have had the absolute right to leave the country and society at will at any time if they found conditions to be intolerable or even vexxing. Not slaves, free agents with no legal limitations on emigration other than if they had been convicted of criminal acts and incarcerated for set periods, the same as anyone of European or Asian ancestry would have.

      So, let us consider. What kind of quit-claim needs to be signed by any individual [Remember, law is for individuals and not a matter of racial guilt or privilege as the American Left claims.] who accepts reparations for past slavery of his ancestors? Do they renounce access to government welfare programs for themselves and their descendants? Do they renounce further US residency for themselves and their descendants? And here is the kicker. If they accept reparations for what happened to their ancestors, do they renounce their US citizenship?

      If there are reparations, in order for it to be legal and fair, there has to be a quit-claim. I toss the idea of what that quit-claim should entail, for who, and what the community property implications out for discussion.

      No, I am not a nice person.

      Subotai Bahadur

    13. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Not a nice person, Subotai – and that is why we love you!

    14. Anonymous Says:

      SB makes good points about litigation, but this isn’t litigation. Not only is litigation about restoration for an individual wrongly damaged in some way, it is about the culpability of another individual (or individuals) for specific actions or lack there of which caused the specific harm. The “injured” have no standing because of their inability to demonstrate specific damage from a causal event. Additionally, they cannot link any such damage to a particular causal agent (or agents) who is culpable for a specific action or inaction (which they had a duty to perform).

      It seems to me that most of the harm done to the actual slaves and their descendants was from the Jim Crow laws. Making a civil damage case for these effects would be even more problematic.

      Finally, one could make the case that the reversal of many of the gains made by these descendents in spite of these laws and racism beginning in the 1960’s could well be laid at the feet of the War on Poverty (and continuing vote buying measures) and Affirmative Action.

      The most pernicious progressive term I know of is “restorative justice”. This is an attempt to rewrite history’s results by treating members of groups based on a theoretical perception of the supposed effects of past wrongs. It doesn’t work this way. The only effects such efforts have is to blunt the incentives to take individual responsibility for one’s future and make the best life you can given your opportunities and it turns self-identifying groups into isolated and self-absorbed mobs warring with any and all other groups who are perceived as privileged and better off, thus a source for restorative payments (through taxes, confiscation or violence).

      Wow, this is going to result in a mighty fine society. For a case study, see Chicago (only in the opening stages of a social contract melt down).

      Death6

    15. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Kirk — Thanks for that insightful story. I have worked with a number of people from Nigeria who were very strong performers, especially in the field of mathematics. I had assumed that their superior performance could be ascribed to the remaining beneficial influence of the British educational system on at least parts of Nigeria, versus the union- and politician-run disaster of public schools in the US. But it is indubitably true that Africans have enslaved other Africans since before recorded history; and it would only be human nature for African slave-owners to have palmed off their less capable slaves on those European slave traders while keeping the smart ones for themselves.

      I am reading “Capitalism & Slavery” by Eric Williams, originally published in 1943. Williams went on to become Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago. While the English tend to focus on their efforts in the 1800s to stop the slave trade between Africa and the Americas, a curtain has tended to be drawn over the previous two centuries in which the English were the world’s pre-eminent slave traders, fighting off serious competition from other Europeans.

      The theme that emerges from William’s book is the overwhelming hypocrisy which has surrounded the ancient issue of slavery. For example, while the English deserve credit for seeking to stop the slave trade in 1807, that was in the middle of the Napoleonic Wars, and the underlying political aim was to shut down France’s highly successful sugar plantations in the Caribbean. Similarly, prominent abolitionists in Manchester, England (which was then the center of global cotton cloth manufacturing) had no qualms about importing the slave-grown raw cotton on which their prosperity depended.

      One of Williams major points is that the wealth extracted from the slave trade and slave-grown products like sugar, cotton, & tobacco provided much of the capital which enabled the Industrial Revolution in England in the later 1700s. If we really want to talk about reparations, it seems like Africans & Europeans would have to be at the table with their checkbooks open. Especially since something like 90% of the slaves transported across the Atlantic went to European colonies in the Caribbean and South America — and those were the places where the real inhuman excesses of slavery occurred.

    16. Mike K Says:

      One fact that must be kept in mind when discussion Nigeria is that most of the intellectual talent resides in the Igbo tribe, formerly called Ibo. The Biafran Civil War was the Igbos against the rest of the country

      Why did Biafra try to secede?.

      They want to secede because they believe they’re being marginalized. That used to happen back in the 60’s after independence due to the fact that the northerners were majorly Muslim and they didn’t want igbos in their land majorly because they were Christian which eventually lead to the Biafran war after Ojukwu declared the eastern states a country, long story short, that doesn’t happen anymore. Another reason for the struggle for Biafra today is because the igbos believe they can run their country better. I don’t believe achieving their own country is the way to go because the very same corrupt Igbo governors,

      Also, my impression is that the Igbos were far more intelligent on average and many have true mathematical skills. There are quite a few Igbos in New York City working as “Quants” in the financial industry.

      I interviewed a Nigerian who was joining the Army Reserve. He had a BS in Mechanical Engineering and an MS in Industrial Engineering. I asked him if he was an Igbo and he was surprised and pleased that I knew about them. During the Civil War, one of my medical students was an Ibo and quite concerned about his family in Biafra.

      Most of my black medical students, the 15 years that I taught students, were either Africans or West Indians. The black American students struggled.

    17. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      Death6

      Keep in mind that fecal agitation was a stated motive. I do not believe that such restorative justice is possible, ever. What we are seeing is the complete breakdown of the Social Contract. There was a small hope that a Trump administration might have given us a chance to hold things together. That hope is awa’ w’ t’ fairies, especially since the Supreme Court ruled today that something that the administration does can be perfectly legal [citizenship question on the census. Same question that was on the long form census from 1890-2000 can be legal to ask] but they have to convince Leftist Justices [including Roberts] that they should be allowed to do something that is legal but might make it harder for Democrat vote fraud.

      Following the law does not work when the enemy is exempt from the law and Constitution. The several separate nations within our borders are either going to have to separate physically, or one is going to have to conquer and destroy the others. What follows is probably not going to have any positive relationship with the Constitution.

      Keep thy codpiece firmly buttoned as the ride is going to get interesting. I am guessing that it will start before November 2020.

      Subotai Bahadur

    18. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Mike K: “Most of my black medical students, the 15 years that I taught students, were either Africans or West Indians.”

      That is an interesting observation. One could apply Darwinian logic and hypothesize that the Africans who were traded across the Atlantic tended to be less capable than the ones who remained in Africa — (a) it is probable that the less capable tribes were the ones who lost out in tribal fighting and were enslaved by the smarter African tribes, and (b) those African slave-owners could reasonably be expected to hold onto their more useful slaves and sell off the others to the European slave traders. But by that hypothesis, there should be no significant difference between the capabilities of people of African heritage in the West Indies and in the US. If Americans of African ancestry are struggling, that points the finger squarely at the baleful effects of generations of Democrat policies on families and education.

      Perhaps Sgt Mom’s Modest Proposal is spot on, and it is Democrats who owe reparations — or at a minimum need to cease & desist from the harmful policies which they have imposed on all Americans. As Death 6 noted, Americans of African heritage today are suffering from the ill-effects of Democrat policies rather than from their ancestors’ long-ago slavery.

    19. Martin Q P Says:

      Dear Sgt. Mom,
      In response to your “modest counter-proposal,” I offer my own modest, contrafactual reparations proposal.

      First, pardon the pun, a conflict disclosure.
      Both of my father’s grandfathers fought on the Union side in the Civil War.
      Whether or not one’s ancestors fought for The Union or were slaves informs my proposal.
      I would possibly gain from this proposal.

      The Union fought an expensive and high mortality war to free slaves.
      The direct beneficiaries of this war are those persons descended from those slaves.

      Reparations should go only to the direct descendants of those who fought for The Union.
      Only direct descendants of freed slaves should pay taxes for those reparations.

      Disadvantages: ignoring the woke notion of “Whiteness,” the progressive concept that whites must take responsibility for the evil men do, will encourage leftist violence.
      Advantages: only the direct descendants of those involved in the struggle will receive, or pay, the reparations.

      All the rest of the population, descendants of people not directly involved in The Civil War, need have no dogs in this fight.

      Best,
      Martin Q.

    20. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Dear Martin! I love it! MY ggg-grandfather was a fire-eating abolitionist, even to the point of (according to family legend) operating a safe house on the Underground Railway! So – would I and my brothers and sisters (and those cousins of ours in the direct line) be entitled to a cut of reparations?! Yeah, our ancestors did their part – give us money!

    21. Martin Q Peterson PhD Says:

      Dear Sgt. Mom,
      Thank you!
      I suggest we join our proposals.
      Compensate only registered Republicans who directly descend from Union forces.
      Tax only registered Democrats who directly descend from former slaves.
      Best,
      Martin Q.

    22. Mike K Says:

      But by that hypothesis, there should be no significant difference between the capabilities of people of African heritage in the West Indies and in the US. If Americans of African ancestry are struggling, that points the finger squarely at the baleful effects of generations of Democrat policies on families and education.

      Not only were the West Indies students descended from slaves also but a couple, who were married were married to white men. One of my students who was from Trinidad was married to a white Australian who was a grad student in Engineering.

      I am convinced that the post 1965 policies of Democrats and the race pimps like Sharpton and Jackson have set the American black population back 50 years,

      One of Thomas Sowell’s comments is “I am so old I remember when most racists were white.”

    23. Brian Says:

      It is interesting/amusing that neither Obama nor Kamala Harris can possibly bring up reparations as an issue due to their family backgrounds.

      The reparations “conversation” isn’t serious, or meant to succeed. It’s just another attempt to keep the majority of blacks looking at themselves as Those Who Are Owed. I’m too young to remember the 1960s, but it seems like a strong case can be made that the entire country, black and otherwise, would be far better off if the parts of the various black movements that were militant (not violent!) and self-sufficient had been more successful rather than the parts that could be interpreted as asking for and receiving gifts from white liberals.

    24. Fiona Says:

      Silly Rabbits! Have the democrats actually convinced black voters that they will receive a check? (Even after the Obama debacle – what happened to their rent and cell phones?). The basic idea is to set up or utilized existing non-profits and dump money in their laps to “restore” whatever. Like the black pig farmers, those funds will reach only a limited number of actual black persons while most of the money will go to experts (mostly white upper middle class) who will curate the funds for the benefit of the recipients. And they will decide who the worthy are. In other words, much like the Federal government, the cash will end up in Democrat party coffers – for the children.

    25. Anonymous Says:

      “…(and not all of that 5% were white, either).”

      When the Cherokees were expelled from Georgia to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears, they took their slaves with them.

      The “Five Civilized Tribes” allied with the Confederacy in the Civil War because most of their chiefs and elders were slaveowners.

      After the War, the tribes were required to adopt their former slaves as members – they all lived together, and the slaves also spoke the Indian languages.

      Then in recent years, some of the tribes came into oil and casino money. They adopted new rules excluding anyone descended from the adopted freedmen. This was eventually stopped by the US Supreme Court.

    26. Rich Rostrom Says:

      Comment above was by me.

    27. Gringo Says:

      Gavin
      But by that hypothesis, there should be no significant difference between the capabilities of people of African heritage in the West Indies and in the US. If Americans of African ancestry are struggling, that points the finger squarely at the baleful effects of generations of Democrat policies on families and education.

      Slaves in the US versus the West Indies had very different demographics. Higher death rates and more slave importation in the West Indies than in the US. It could be that “survival of the fittest” with higher death rates in the West Indies made a difference in the genetic makeup of West Indies slaves.
      Historical Context: American Slavery in Comparative Perspective.

      Of the 10 to 16 million Africans who survived the voyage to the New World, over one-third landed in Brazil and between 60 and 70 percent ended up in Brazil or the sugar colonies of the Caribbean. Only 6 percent arrived in what is now the United States. Yet by 1860, approximately two thirds of all New World slaves lived in the American South.

      For a long time it was widely assumed that southern slavery was harsher and crueler than slavery in Latin America, where the Catholic church insisted that slaves had a right to marry, to seek relief from a cruel master, and to purchase their freedom. Spanish and Portuguese colonists were thought to be less tainted by racial prejudice than North Americans and Latin American slavery was believed to be less subject to the pressures of a competitive capitalist economy.
      In practice, neither the Church nor the courts offered much protection to Latin American slaves. Access to freedom was greater in Latin America, but in many cases masters freed sick, elderly, crippled, or simply unneeded slaves in order to relieve themselves of financial responsibilities.

      Death rates among slaves in the Caribbean were one-third higher than in the South, and suicide appears to have been much more common. Unlike slaves in the South, West Indian slaves were expected to produce their own food in their “free time,” and care for the elderly and the infirm.

      The largest difference between slavery in the South and in Latin America was demographic. The slave population in Brazil and the West Indies had a lower proportion of female slaves, a much lower birthrate, and a higher proportion of recent arrivals from Africa. In striking contrast, southern slaves had an equal sex ratio, a high birthrate, and a predominantly American-born population.

      Slavery in the United States was especially distinctive in the ability of the slave population to increase its numbers by natural reproduction. In the Caribbean, Dutch Guiana, and Brazil, the slave death rate was so high and the birthrate so low that slaves could not sustain their population without imports from Africa. The average number of children born to an early nineteenth-century southern slave woman was 9.2—twice as many as in the West Indies.

      In the West Indies, slaves constituted 80 to 90 percent of the population, while in the South only about a third of the population was enslaved. Plantation size also differed widely. In the Caribbean, slaves were held on much larger units, with many plantations holding 150 slaves or more. In the American South, in contrast, only one slaveholder held as many as a thousand slaves, and just 125 had over 250 slaves. Half of all slaves in the United States worked on units of twenty or fewer slaves; three-quarters had fewer than fifty.

      These demographic differences had important social implications. In the American South, slaveholders lived on their plantations and slaves dealt with their owners regularly. Most planters placed plantation management, supply purchasing, and supervision in the hands of black drivers and foremen, and at least two-thirds of all slaves worked under the supervision of black drivers. Absentee ownership was far more common in the West Indies, where planters relied heavily on paid managers and on a distinct class of free blacks and mulattos to serve as intermediaries with the slave population.
      Another important difference between Latin America and the United States involved conceptions of race. In Spanish and Portuguese America, an intricate system of racial classification emerged. Compared with the British and French, the Spanish and Portuguese were much more tolerant of racial mixing—an attitude encouraged by a shortage of European women—and recognized a wide range of racial gradations, including black, mestizo, quadroon, and octoroon. The American South, in contrast, adopted a two-category system of race in which any person with a black mother was automatically considered to be black.

      I believe the biggest difference between West Indian and American blacks after the end of slavery was that West Indian blacks were a much larger proportion of the population,and thus were able to exercise more power than American blacks. There wasn’t the shame of “acting white,” of selling out to the man in the West Indies, because they were the majority.

      I found out when I worked in Trinidad, that being a member of a racial minority did have an effect on me. It wasn’t a problem at work. (One time at work someone handed me a keyboard flute,and were pleased that I played Matilda, the calypso classic.) Most people were polite,but some few were not. After a while, I got tired of the classification game- black- East Indian- white-Oriental I was doing and just dealt with whom I was with, regardless. On my flight leaving Trinidad, my seatmate was a black Trini who was an MBA student at USC. As he put it, the shoe was on the other foot in Trinidad.

    28. Anonymous Says:

      “…such as members of the Democrat Party who registered as such within the last twenty or thirty years may apply for an exemption. ”

      Absolutely not. Those who registered so recently should have been aware, and thus are, in my mind, even more guilty of ignoring the past, and denying D party culpability in former evil, racism, and absolute bigotry. Also guilty in defaming the party from Ripon, formed to abolish slavery, as I recall from my grandfather. Drove by the little building where the R party was born 50-60 years ago, and he pointed with pride(he was a long time Wisconsinite).
      Recent devotees are much farther from original D, and much more intolerant of just about anything they don’t find agreeable.