The Debtors: Whites Respond to the Call for Black Reparations


By Dorothy Benton Lewis

While the body of the book provides perspectives from various white supporters of black reparations, my foreword provides the reader with an African descendant’s perspective on white support in the black reparations movement. I share my personal journey to reparations so that the reader may better understand how I arrived at that perspective and the view that a successful reparations movement would create a better world for all people, much like the civil rights movement created a better America.

By Ida Hakim

In this introduction, I talk about planning the book and inviting a group of writers to submit as many pages as needed to express their ideas while staying within their area of interest or expertise. I go on to explain that the writers were asked to help create a book that would appeal to a wide audience, including farmers, laborers, professionals, politicians, preachers, academicians, diplomats – anyone interested in knowing why white America should support Black Reparations. I also clarify why there are differences in terminology used by the individual writers. The introduction concludes with the CURE Statement of Belief and Purpose.
A Response to David Horowitz's "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Blacks is a Bad Idea for Blacks - and Racist Too"

By Larry Yates

My chapter is a response to David Horowitz' "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Blacks is a Bad Idea for Blacks - and Racist Too." Horowitz' piece has been distributed widely around the country, especially on campuses, as a key element of a well-funded campaign. The chapter responds to each of the points that Horowitz makes, pointing out both logical flaws in Horowitz' arguments and factual inaccuracies. Overall, the chapter seeks to show that the outlandish picture of reparations that Horowitz draws reflects neither the historical past nor any likely future, and constitutes an insult to African Americans and others who support reparations for slavery and oppose institutional racism.
Answering Opposition to Reparations; Plus, White Advocacy for Reparations: The Personal Side

By Donna Lamb

In part one, I answer seven of the questions most often asked by white people about reparations, including: “My family didn't own slaves, so why should I have to pay?” “What about all the poor people who immigrated here long after slavery – isn't it unfair to expect them to pay?” and “Isn't the reparations movement divisive?” In part two I discuss such issues as a white person’s motives for engaging in this work, our attitude towards other whites as we reach out to them about reparations, and how we view people of African descent. I offer some practical suggestions about how to do this work most effectively, including maintaining the proper frame of mind while advocating for this most contentious issue.
Justice and Human Rights

By Ida Hakim

In my chapter I focus on human rights and the lingering effects of slavery in the Americas and Caribbean. I point out that the collective human rights of Afrodescendants, i.e. their original languages, cultures and religions, have been intentionally and utterly destroyed by slavery, resulting in the ongoing loss of identity. I explain that during the last 50 years, as Afrodescendants have attempted to break the bonds of forced assimilation and rise together as a people, their efforts have been sabotaged, in violation of international law. The chapter tells of the present-day movement toward international recognition of Afrodescendants as a human family and restoration of their human rights along with reparations. The United Nations is the battleground for this movement. My chapter makes the assertion that the movement for Black Reparations should be recognized as beneficial to all peoples in that it challenges the United Nations to fulfill its promise of human rights for everyone, everywhere.
Class and Institutionalizing White Privilege

By Amy Kedron

My chapter is a comparative examination of the histories of white indentured servants and black slaves. It examines how, by instituting racial advantages and disadvantages, the future trajectories of these two initially similar groups varied greatly. More particularly, it examines "freedom dues," a form of reparations given to freed white servants. Freedom dues, which former servants actually received, were very similar to the "forty acres and a mule" that former slaves called for but did not receive.
Land Swindle: The Plight of Black Farmers, Land Loss, and the Case for Reparations

By Dorothy Blake Fardan

In my chapter I lay out the racist, devious acts that white landowners, bankers, merchants and government agents perpetrated against Black people that resulted in the 15 million acres that Blacks had acquired by 1910 dwindling to a few million acres at best. Utilizing an Associated Press investigation of Black land loss and an interview with Gary Grant, President of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalist Association, the chapter examines the relationship between lynching and land loss, imprisonment and land loss, courthouse fires resulting in deeds lost and then land loss, as well as the Black farmers’ case against the United States Department of Agriculture. The chapter aims to demonstrate that land is still the most valuable asset for a people seeking self-determination, liberation and independence.
From Legal Enslavement to Prison: Connecting the Reparations Dots

By Molly Secours

As a writer and filmmaker, I have worked with youth – disproportionately of color – who are in the early developmental stages of their “prison careers.” In my chapter I address how youth of color are socialized to walk down the prison path and how many are destined to become third and fourth generation inmates as a result of white supremacist laws that originally enslaved Blacks. Without a doubt our jails and prisons are a slightly more sanitized version of slavery. I also explain that before witnessing the inequities of the criminal justice system firsthand, I was unable to make the connection between the startling statistics that highlight disproportionate incarceration rates among youth of color, and the rapid escalation of jail building currently taking place in this country. Without reparations, this devastating pattern will only continue.
Reparations as a Vehicle for Reclaiming Our Humanity

By Jerry Saltzman

My chapter concentrates on ways to address the conceptual and attitudinal underpinnings of the objections to the call for reparations to descendants of enslaved Africans by conceptualizing the difference between this reparations movement and other reparations movements in terms of scope and complexity. I also address the underpinnings of these objections by developing a number of themes connected to the ways in which the legacy of slavery harmfully affects all Americans. These themes include a discussion of how the legacy of slavery sets up impediments to the full development of open and honest relationships between white and black people as well as limits on the full expression of our humanity. The above-mentioned themes, along with a new model for looking at accountability, demonstrate the power inherent in a thoughtful discussion and resolution of the reparations issue as a means of transforming our class/race-based society into one that serves the rational needs and interests of all humans.
The Immigrant’s Role in Reparations

By Carol Chehade

I discuss the immigrant’s role in the reparations movement – especially immigrants who are categorized as non-Black people of color. Since immigrants have always made up the overwhelming population of the United States, we cannot exempt ourselves from the racial damages that all immigrants have perpetuated through lack of accountability. I discuss why people like myself who immigrated to this country long after slavery was formally abolished still have a responsibility as new Americans to strengthen our adopted nation by helping to heal the racial rift. One such way to show the intention of healing is through supporting the implementation of reparations.
Why White america Should Support Black Reparations

Mark Patrick George

My brief chapter suggests that the burden lies on whites to explain why reparations are not due instead of on people of African descent to convince whites why they are due. I also indicate that whites live out the legacy and impact of slavery as well as white supremacy in the very discussion of reparations. This occurs when whites assume we have the right to speak to this subject we rarely know anything about, assume Blacks simply want a handout, and as we attempt to define how racial justice should be dealt out in this nation.
Selections from CURE’s Mail and Email

Since 2002, CURE has extended an invitation to the public, via our website at, to ask questions or make comments about Black reparations. The communications we receive are then distributed to CURE members for their responses. This lively chapter contains several of these comments and arguments from the general public and our replies. All are published as they were written, with only minimal editing.
The Story of CURE

By Ida Hakim

In this chapter I begin by telling of the life-changing guidance that led to my founding CURE. I go on to talk about the first twelve years of the organization’s existence, starting with CURE’s first public event held in Chicago in 1992. Following this are details about the years from 1994 to 1997 in which CURE published a book and a magazine and established an active and informative website. I then make know some of the members who came on board after 1997 and the activities we engaged in, including television and radio interviews, speeches, panel discussions and other reparations events. I give credit to dedicated members who have made CURE the productive, honest, and strong organization it is today.

The Appendix contains brief biographies of the book’s authors, cover artist and book designer.