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The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks by Randall Robinson
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“Small wonder our national spirit is husk empty. We have more information but less knowledge. More communication but less community. More goods but less goodwill. More of virtually everything save that which the human spirit requires. So distracted have we become sating this new need or that material appetite, we hardly noticed the departure of happiness”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“I am not a churchgoing man. Strangled in the vines of form and choked with ritual Christians, Sunday service held no appeal for me as a child. When my parents released me from compulsory attendance, I would never return. In my view, religion is best practiced out of doors, in nature's cathedral of miracles where spirits and the arts of heaven mingle unencumbered. The spirits were present on the tiny unmarked parcel at Mount Vernon that early autumn afternoon.

Hazel and I stood for a long while in complete silence. Words would have marred, much as they misserve this inadequate telling of what we felt. We had been touched by wearied souls calling, in a language ethereal as morning mist, from the near realm that awaits us all.

These were 'our' ancestors and, alone behind an old wooden outbuilding, my wife and I had wordlessly worshiped with them on that clear crisp afternoon.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“Ancestor worship is not alone the exotic preoccupation of quaint people mired in superstition in some remote corner of the world. Larger-than-life evidence of its industrialized-world variants can be seen in virtually every public park in America.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“George Washington is the quintessential American public ancestor. Americans worship him before an obelisk in Washington, a statue in Baltimore, a square in New York, an engraving on the dollar, and Stuart prints hanging from coast to coast. (Washington couldn't have known that the obelisk to be dedicated in memory of him, on February 21, 1885, would be the world's largest replica of a 3,500-year-old monument to the Egyptian sun god.)”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“Trouble is, George Washington is not my ancestor, private or public. He owned my ancestors, abused them as chattel and willed them to his wife, Martha, upon his death. I and mine need to know about George and Martha but, assuredly, we do not need to revere them. Indeed, psychically we cannot afford to revere them.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“Until America's white ruling class accepts the fact that the book never closes on massive unredressed social wrongs, America can have no future as one people.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“It is as if, since its very establishment, America had chosen to hold, as Napoleon would, that "history is the myth that men choose to believe." The crypto-Machiavellians who serve as the perennial stewards of American public affairs understand that people on the whole are about as malleable as their history can be made to be. The landscape is rife with examples, from historically overarching lies and half-truths to popular culture deceits.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“Racist behavior in our society is largely static, unnoticed, unremarked, and unconsciously accommodated by Americans of all colors.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“Greek civilization derived in its religion, its philosophy, its mathematics and much else, from the ancient civilizations of Africa above all from Egypt of the Pharaohs. To those 'founding fathers' in classical Greece, any notion that Africans were inferior, morally or intellectually, would have seemed silly. –Basil Davidson, Africa in History (1991)”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“Later, on April 15, 1999, a crowd of protestors led by the Reverend Al Sharpton shut down half of the Brooklyn Bridge, capping ten weeks of demonstrations following the killing of a twenty-three-year-old West African immigrant, Amadou Diallo, by four white New York City police officers. The officers had sprayed forty-one bullets into Mr. Diallo's apartment building vestibule, striking him nineteen times. Mr. Diallo was unarmed and had no police record. New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a Republican, declined to criticize the police department whose tactics he had historically endorsed. As the crowd, estimated from fifteen to twenty-five thousand, gathered at Brooklyn's Cadman Plaza, jury selection proceeded next door in the trial of four different white New York City police officers accused of torturing Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant, in a Brooklyn police station in 1997. The demonstrations, growing larger and more multiracial, had begun to spread around the country in response to the horrific acts of police brutality. The canvas, stood back from, had a chilling Kafkaesque quality about it. Instrumentalities of the state had been used to spectacularly kill one completely innocent and defenseless man and brutally maim another. Mayor Giuliani appeared to accept this as a reasonable price of effective law enforcement.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“For the varieties of bigotry spring from a common root. To tolerate one form, either wittingly or not, is to accept all the rest.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“No race, no ethnic or religious group, has suffered so much over so long a span as blacks have, and do still, at the hands of those who benefited, with the connivance of the United States government, from slavery and the century of legalized American racial hostility that followed it. It is a miracle that the victims–weary dark souls long shorn of a venerable and ancient identity–have survived at all, stymied as they are by the blocked roads to economic equality.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“This book is about the great still-unfolding massive crime of official and unofficial America against Africa, African slaves, and their descendants in America.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“Then he arrived. And with (whatever it may have been originally) an idea of his own. This had maddened Americans. Made them crazy, like some consciousness-altering brew rendering circles square and squares oblong. Look at a thing dead on, and flat not see it. See a thing, quite literally, that wasn't there. If our government decided to hate him for declining to play the Latin cipher, our people with small inspiration decided to hate him for stuff they would just make up, without, I think, knowing they were fabricating rationales for their reflexive antipathies. Their comments would quite frequently make them look silly, but not to each other because they believed what they were saying no matter how baseless. Nice people, even, said these things. Not lying, because I believe they thought they were telling the truth.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“A slur against any group by a member of another can never go unremarked if our society is to have any long-term future.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“At long last, let America contemplate the scope of its enduring human-rights wrong against the whole of a people. Let the vision of blacks not become so blighted from a sunless eternity that we fail to see the staggering breadth of America's crime against us.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“For wasn't the practice of slavery at least as serious a system of human-rights wrongs as the Nazi holocaust? Did not the holocaust of slavery last longer–indeed, 234 years longer? Did it not claim at least twice as many lives, in the Middle Passage alone? Did it not savagely eviscerate the emotional core of a whole race of people on three continents? In raising any defense of Jefferson, a powerful American cog in slavery's long-grinding machine, are we not then subscribing to Jefferson's view that a black life has lesser value, black suffering an inconsequential significance? Their griefs are transient. Does not the continued unremarked American deification of Jefferson tell us all how profoundly contemptuous of black sensibilities American society persists in being? How deeply, stubbornly, poisonously racist our society to this day remains?”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“Solutions must be tailored to the scope of the crime in a way that would make the victim whole. In this case, the psychic and economic injury is enormous, multidimensional and long-running. Thus must be America's restitution to blacks for the damage done.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“As Germany and other interests that profited owed reparations to Jews following the holocaust of Nazi persecution, America and other interests that profited owe reparations to blacks following the holocaust of African slavery which has carried forward from slavery's inception for 350-odd years to the end of U.S. government–embraced racial discrimination–an end that arrived, it would seem, only just yesterday.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“Jefferson was a slaveholder, a racist, and–if one accepts that consent cannot be given if it cannot be denied–a rapist.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“No nation can enslave a race of people for hundreds of years, set them free bedraggled and penniless, pit them, without assistance in a hostile environment, against privileged victimizers, and then reasonably expect the gap between the heirs of the two groups to narrow. Lines, begun parallel and left alone, can never touch.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“While there were those like Thomas Paine who found the whole business of the slave trade abhorrent, they were far outnumbered by slaveholders who, among other things, forced female slaves into sexual service.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“George Washington was a third-generation slaveholder, who with Martha owned more than three hundred slaves. He prized them particularly; as a signal of wealth in his world, such property exceeded gold and real estate. He had once written to a fellow planter urging that he send him strong slaves in good health who were not "addicted to running away." At the end of the Revolutionary War, he cordoned the beaches with soldiers to prevent runaway slaves who had fought with the British from leaving America with the redcoats.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“There are in Timbuktu numerous judges, doctors [of letters] and priests [i.e., learned Muslims]. [The ruler] greatly honors scholarship. Here too they sell many handwritten books that arrive from Barbary [i.e., North Africa]. More profit is had from their sale than from any other merchandise. –Leo Africanus (1550)”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“African Americans must spiritually survive from the meager basket of a few mean yesterdays. No chance for significant group progress there. None. For we have been largely overwhelmed by a majority culture that wronged us dramatically, emptied our memories, undermined our self-esteem, implanted us with palatable voices, and stripped us along the way of the sheerest corona of self-definition.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“For twelve years Nazi Germany inflicted horrors upon European Jews. And Germany paid. It paid Jews individually. It paid the state of Israel. For two and a half centuries, Europe and America inflicted unimaginable horrors upon Africa and its people. Europe not only paid nothing to Africa in compensation, but followed the slave trade with the remapping of Africa for further European economic exploitation. (European governments have yet even to accede to Africa's request for the return of Africa's art treasures looted along with its natural resources during the century-long colonial era.)”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“The estimates vary. Anywhere from ten to twenty-five million Africans died in slave ships en route from Africa to the Americas. A lifetime of bondage awaited those who survived the passage. This massive crime against humanity–the enslavement and exploitation of tens of millions of human beings–is an American holocaust. (The extermination of the Native American population is another.) Yet one can scour the commemorative architecture of the nation's capital and find little evidence that America's racial holocaust ever occurred.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“The founders of Brown University, Nicholas and Joseph Brown, got their wealth by manufacturing and selling slave ships and investing in the slave trade. –The Black Holocaust for Beginners, S. E. Anderson”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“In the animated Dreamworks movie Prince of Egypt the ancient Egyptians are drawn to appear more Arab than African. But the ancient Egyptians came originally from Africa's interior to the south. They were not Arabs, not people from Arabia, but indigenous Africans. Egyptian civilization was thousands of years old by the time the Arabs, with a modest army under General 'Amr ibn as- 'As, entered in December of 639 A.D.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks
“No one outside of Africa would remember that from 1890 to 1910 the Belgian King Leopold II (who was viewed at the time in Europe and America as a "philanthropic" monarch) genocidally plundered the Congo, killing as many as ten million people.”
Randall Robinson, The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks

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