George Floyd: A Call to White Leadership
The purpose of this brief article is to respond to the article titled “George Floyd: What Leaders Need To Do Now,”published in Mediate.com and to offer some comments by a living black man whose paternal grandfather and grandmother were slaves.
At the onset, I do not question the good intentions of the author of that article. She is a product of dominant white culture, history and thought that have from the beginning of our country assumed that our pain, our struggle, indeed our death, may be appropriated for personal and white aggrandized benefits. I realize that white people generally are so blind to our hurt, our sorry, that they do not understand our feeling engendered by their action. Whatever benefits that that article might offer to mediation, and there may be some unknown benefits, are subsumed and warped by the fact that no call to white leadership was even tangently addressed concerning the real problem that made a George Floyd murder likely, predictable and repetitive.
It is not enough to cite racism as the problem and then engage in obtuse social theories, ignoring all realities, of the economic problems and disparities between blacks and whites. Black households need money. Money is a gateway drug—to wealth, health, medical care, education, legal protection, politics and even to proximity to whites, which is not unimportant.
Mediators must face bitter facts first if we are ever going to move forward in a real sense, including the following:
It’s time for white people and white leadership to solve what is the root of inequality for
black communities: MONEY! Black people don’t have any money; harshly put, they don’t have any economic base that supports even functional equality, just as the civil rights laws, although needed, have proven. The current path that America is on, racially with black Americans, would take over 500 more years for black Americans to reach income equality with whites and they likely will never achieve wealth parity with whites.
The fundamental reason for white’s refusal to engage in real remedies for black
Americans is due to the fact that a majority of white people do not value black lives as they do other people’s lives, including, of course, white lives. To prove this, look no further than the initial responses of white people, including liberal Bernie Sanders, to the Black Lives Matter movement.
If the United States can agree to and pay a slave holder to free his or her slaves, one might be puzzled to understand why that same government recoils at paying the descendants of slaves a little cash for 246 years of free slave labor. In an effort to set a precedent to avoid the Civil War, President Lincoln signed the D.C. Compensated Emancipation Act in 1862; The 1862 Act required the U.S. government to pay reparations to slave owners of $300 to free each slave; in today market that amounts to over $8000. Unfortunately, the Southerners preferred treason to compensation and shortly thereafter attacked the Union.
Surely, mediators with their superior skills at resolving conflict and breaking impasse might consider proposing the establishment of a Mediation and Reconciliation Commission (MRC) to mediate payments to every black American house a check for the part of the 246 years of free labor. Mediators and their organizations might address the problem by:
This cash infusion would provide the basis for the black community to engage in and invest in setting up community businesses, laying the foundation for real wealth. At the same time, this would avoid expanding the federal government’s paying $200,000 yearly salaries to a few African Americans strutting around in suits dispensing (and possibly skimming off) money intended for black households. Upgrading the status of African Americans cannot not be done by giving affirmative action jobs to a few black administrators which can be taken away in the very next federal administration.
As mediators you might face hostility, hatred and even death threats for putting forth a real solution to attack racism at its core. I would be remiss if I failed to point out to my fellow mediators some of the arguments and obstacles that they will surely face on the road to convincing their fellow white Americans to engage in mediation and conciliation to atone for our nation’s original sin. Here are just a few:
First, my family never owned any slaves (but if you look closer, maybe they did?);
Second, it’s been too long ago; let’s move on—the white default argument. The answer to that: Covid-19 and GEORGE FLOYD!
Third, white’s second default position: “I’m not a racist.”;
Fourth, it’s impossible; whites will never stand for it; (black leader’s argument);
Fifth, blacks don’t have enough sense to put that much money to good use;
Sixth, it would let whites off the hook (which is the ultimate silly sycophantic arguments because I don’t remember ever hearing whites having the conscience or humility to entertain a single thought that they were on the hook for anything or any deed done by them in the last 700 years.);
Seventh, it would be a waste of money, so let’s just give them a little more “affirmative action, again;
Eighth, there is no way to know which black American ancestors were slaves;
Ninth, the issue of reparations is only going to divide us more; [or as Bernie Sanders would say, “divide us up.”]
Tenth, I’m opposed to preferable treatment because my folks came here after slavery; and,
Eleventh, what about other minorities; don’t they deserve something? (confused black leadership position, thinking that all wrongs deserve the same remedy. )
The next line of impasse breaking arguments mediators can and should make is the actual example of the U.S. Government and other white governments’ paying reparations to people whose lives white governments put some value on and paid for, as follows:
1990 U.S paid Japanese Americans $1.2 billion reparation for putting them in relocation camps for 3 years;
Mediators, let’s take this time to get this right, right now!
Blacks will never be treated equally until they have the economic resources to protect themselves. That means (1) Money; and or (2) equal education to protect themselves (not foreseeable for 500 years). Additionally, a $2-5 billion dollar infusion into each African American household will enable black Americans to put themselves on a footing to become equal, many to invest in their communities, some to get out of ghettos and become integrated with whites, which is a benefit because proximity is everything when it comes to obtaining legal and social rights, as the LGBT movement illustrates. Proximity and sanguinity enabled the LGBT community to gain legal and social rights in 50 years which took blacks over 300 years to do so.
Remember as mediators, one of the best arguments for reparations is its simplicity. It gets rid of the black leadership class who has demonstrated, time and time again, that it doesn’t have the vision to see what really ails the black community and to unite and demand the one fastest and best way to set their communities on the road to true equality. Black leaders don’t grasp the true uniqueness of our situation, although they say they do. Let’s not forget that Dr. King did; he called for reparations and stated that reparations are due because no other minority was brought here in chains and enslaved for 246 years, providing free labor. Dr. King was not a lawyer, but he understood that different wrongs require different remedies. Our situation calls for different remedies than those who came here voluntarily and have not been forced to give the system 246 years and approximately 300 million hours of free labor. Mediators should understand that they will also have to deal with black leaders who frequently conflate their people‘s needs and proper remedies with other minorities. Mediators will find it tough having to deal with such demonstrations of intellectual lunacy, but I know mediators are up to the task. Mediators also will remember that reparations are not the end. We still need all the laws being proposed to protect us against police brutality and to promote other laws and issues for the general welfare; but, it’s time to stop tinkering around the edges.
White leadership is needed because blacks, with or without black leadership, can’t do it! Whites have the power, the resources—all that is needed is the will.
One can only hope the systemic issues exposed by Covid-19 and the tragic killing of George Floyd will give white leadership (on all levels) the courage and the will to address and, for the first time, pay real money to ameliorate the problems that our origin sin has created and nurtured for 401 years.
Let’s respond to the death of George Floyd without engaging in bromides and appropriating the grief of my people that came with it for one’s self-aggrandizement. CMC Commission now!
Click here for the JAMS ADR Blog In a recent episode of Arbitrate.com’s “Arbitration Conversation,” JAMS CEO Chris Poole speaks with host Amy Schmitz on his journey to becoming CEO...By Chris Poole