I was appalled and saddened to read the caption for the cartoon on Friday, September 30, 2011. It read, “Imagine Baldwin ’tap ah de Waldorf and den tun round an beg fuh reparations.” Jumping Jehosaphat! Or, as we say here when we are nonplussed, ok then. In the continued spirit of cartooning, let me ask the cartoonist and the vessels that will have made this empty noise, where did they find the money, to get the money, to make the money, to spend the money to build the hotel?
But Langston Hughes said it better in his satirical poem, Advertisement for the Waldorf-Astoria:
“…..Have luncheon there this afternoon, all you jobless.
Dine with some of the men and women who got rich off of
your labor, who clip coupons with clean white fingers
because your hands dug coal, drilled stones, sewed gar-
ments, poured steel to let other people draw dividends
and live easy
(Or haven’t you had enough yet of the soup-lines and the bitter bread of charity?)….”
I am forced to register that the historical sociologist, Orlando Patterson, writing in what has been referred to as his profound treatise, Slavery and Social Death, argued that slavery cannot be understood without comprehending the importance of honour. This kindergarten requirement is because slavery is much more that an institution allowing property-in-people. Slavery is “the permanent, violent domination of natally alienated and generally dishonoured persons.”
And it is to Patterson we must turn to define honour: “True honour is possible only where one is fully accepted and included, where one is considered by one’s potential peers as wholly belonging.” This “wholly belonging” status probably explains why even some of our best and brightest minds want us to, “get over it”; like a dirty pool of water they have left behind; as if water can’t swim. They must disabuse themselves of their migrant, belonging status or be prepared to face ad hoc deportation. Look at the President of America. Look at him.
I can only end by reminding that the first four syllable word all West Indian children, of all races, should learn to pronounce is, e-co-no-mics. That is what brought us here and that is what will take us where all honourable (and not so honourable) citizens of the world should reside. My dear good people, reparations for slavery and its offspring are the diametric, the antithesis, of charity.