Under the pretext of “We must look out for each other and exemplify the values expressed in the adage ‘I am my brother’s keeper,’ ” President Obama announced that America is to make reparations payments. No, he is not paying Blacks for slavery, a move most Americans would consider “totally outrageous behavior” that would create “even more racial discord.” Actually, the Obama administration has awarded $12 million for assistance to Holocaust survivors.
In what all Americans view as “a proper action,” the Obama administration is funding a targeted effort to support needs of Holocaust survivors living in the United States. An allocation from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Jewish Federations of North America is to be disbursed over five years, as part of an initiative to address needs of 130,000 Holocaust survivors currently residing in the U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said, “The Jewish community has been leading this [work] for decades. The President and I have decided it’s time for us to step up and build on their efforts.” After Biden launched the initiative in December 2013, the White House named Aviva Sufian as special envoy to coordinate activities to assist survivors’ ageing with dignity in the comfort of their homes and communities.
“With this award, we will be able to advance our efforts to provide crucial services to vulnerable survivors,” said Mark Wilf, chairman of the JFNA National Holocaust Survivor Initiative. “These are our mothers, fathers, teachers and our mentors,” he said. “They deserve to live their remaining years in dignity, and this award will help make that hope a reality.” Combined with matching private funds, the approximately $2.5 million per year over the five years “will support $4.1 million in programming annually for organizations that help Holocaust survivors advance innovations in person-centered, trauma-informed supportive services.”
Mark Wilf is a billionaire owner and current president of the Minnesota Vikings. Wilf is an example the latest version of well-to-do Blacks could imitate. He recently helped organize the distribution of hearing aids to people in the New York area — most of them Holocaust survivors — at Yankee Stadium. The aids were provided by the Starkey Hearing Foundation, with backing from JFNA, Wilf Family Foundations, the NFL’s Vikings and the New York Yankees.
Many European countries have paid victims of the Holocaust; at the top of the list is Germany, which paid over $90 billion. In 2012, Germany gave an estimated 80,000 survivors in other countries a one-time payment of $3,250. This is not the first time America has paid restitution or reparations to the survivors of racial atrocities. In 1998, the U.S. pledged $1.25 billion to pay to Japanese-Americans and their heirs. In contrast, most Americans refuse to see the validity of reparations to Blacks; therefore, there’s no such money as Jews are getting for their holocaust forthcoming to Blacks for theirs.
When it comes to reparations, there’s no Black leadership. We have a way to go in looking out for one another with the vigor Jews have. It’s as if Blacks are conflicted about getting their just compensation. The 40 million Black slave descendants in the U.S. today are owed a minimum payment of $ 1.5 million. The serious devastation that slavery had on African-American lives has never been officially recognized by the United States government.
Continuing payments to Holocaust survivors represent the power of America’s Jewish lobby and ineptness of Blacks’. Blacks in Congress hardly pursue our reparations with the same drive as Jews in that body. Blacks are less united and much more passive regarding their catastrophe. Whenever he brings it up, Rep. John Conyers’ House Resolution 40 – the bill to study reparations – is habitually referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. If Blacks only had the will and power of Jews in this country, they’d unify around the issue to ensure that the federal government undertakes an official study of the impact of slavery on the social, political and economic life of our nation and establish a commission to study its subsequent racial and economic impact.
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and is available for projects via firstname.lastname@example.org.