Over 12 years starting in 1953, Israel added 45,000 jobs as it’s electrical system and GNP tripled in capacity fueled in part by investments made with reparations money from Germany. The relevance of STEM to jobs and economics of slavery past and present is a recurring beat here at STEM Drum. It is difficult in the extreme to envision solutions to community development challenges that don’t leverage STEM. We and America have a responsibility to face those challenges. Although initial opposition was fierce, Germany is still paying($89B as of 2012) because there’s a sense of responsibility:
Asked whether, given the millions of dollars that Germany is now pledging to help weaker economies in the euro zone, there were thoughts that 60 years of payments to survivors was enough, Werner Gatzer, who leads the negotiations for the Germans, shook his head.
“We will have done enough when no more survivors remain,” Mr. Gatzer said. “As long as they live, we will uphold our responsibility.”
We have known for some time that America profited greatly from slave labor but a close look at the numbers is needed to create practical plans of action:
the Civil War—the most lethal conflict in American history—boiled down to the right to raise an empire based on slaveholding and white supremacy. What had not yet clicked for me was precisely how essential enslavement was to America, that its foundational nature explained the Civil War’s body count. The sheer value of enslaved African-Americans is just astounding. And looking at this recent piece by Chris Hayes, I’m wondering if my numbers are short (emphasis added):
In order to get a true sense of how much wealth the South held in bondage, it makes far more sense to look at slavery in terms of the percentage of total economic value it represented at the time. And by that metric, it was colossal. In 1860, slaves represented about 16 percent of the total household assets—that is, all the wealth—in the entire country, which in today’s terms is a stunning $10 trillion.
Ten trillion dollars is already a number much too large to comprehend, but remember that wealth was intensely geographically focused. According to calculations made by economic historian Gavin Wright, slaves represented nearly half the total wealth of the South on the eve of secession. “In 1860, slaves as property were worth more than all the banks, factories and railroads in the country put together,” civil war historian Eric Foner tells me. “Think what would happen if you liquidated the banks, factories and railroads with no compensation.”
There is a compelling interview with Ta-Nehisi on MSNBC.
While it will be better when Justice is manifest, African-Americans are free to choose to invest our limited resources(starting with our attention) in STEM. That is our responsibility to our village independent of what others do.