Writer’s Note: I’ve said inheritance 11 times.
You see this title and go, “what in the holy Hotep hell in this?” I know, I know. But this will be a hot take and a timely one. And might I add, I have no affiliation with the ADOS movement that’s been making headway on the reparations front. I’m merely someone who champions the cause on moral, principle and economic grounds.
With that out the way I want to say earlier I had a thought about inheritance and what that usually means. For instance, people have probably seen the Narnia film with Prince Caspian. That’s an inheritance story. But to speak about this in more recent terms I think Black Panther is a right fit. The character Michael B. Jordan plays, Eric Kilmonger, is one who fights for his inheritance. That’s his story in the film. He even takes the throne at one point as the rightful heir by blood. The keywords are by blood.
Now that we’ve established this idea of inheritance, I want to link it to the topic of reparations. I alluded to this in a brief rant before but to dive in further, we can say and with confidence that reparations, like the story of Kilmonger, is an issue of inheritance.
I don’t think anyone would deny those slaves compensation for their free labor, pain and loss if they all were alive today. Fortunately, they bore children who grew up and had children of their own and so forth. So if anything is owed, it is owed to those who share the same blood of those slaves. That’s how an inheritance works in film, right? If someone in the family, like a king or queen dies, the throne goes to the next of kin.
Next of kin refers to a person’s closest living blood relative. The next of kin relationship is important in determining inheritance rights if a person dies without a will and has no spouse and/or children. State law in the United States establishes next of kin relationships and inheritance priorities.
I think one of the complicated parts would be identifying who were slaves back then and finding the perpetrators, assuming the blame isn’t all the government, then tracking down surviving relatives. That’ll be the most challenging parts to this I feel.
But I have faith in historians who know the history can fill in these gaps, if not already. And now that I think about it, if people can produce their own evidence to support their claim to whatever inheritance then it would save a lot of time and manpower. The problem with that however is things would be too sporadic I suspect.
The main point I want to outline here however, is anytime the argument about descendants not being slaves comes up or slavery was so long ago that it doesn’t matter, I’d say claim your inheritance. A wrong occurred and was never given proper relief by law. Take the Virginia Declaration of Rights for instance, as it says:
That every freeman restrained of his liberty is entitled to a remedy to enquire into the lawfulness thereof, and to remove the same, if unlawful, and that such remedy ought not to be denied nor delayed.
That every freeman ought to find a certain remedy by recourse to the laws for all injuries and wrongs he may receive in his person, property, or character. He ought to obtain right and justice freely without sale, completely and without denial, promptly and without delay, and that all establishments, or regulations contravening these rights, are oppressive and unjust.
The Virginia Declaration of Rights Virginia’s Declaration of Rights was drawn upon by Thomas Jefferson for the opening paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence. It was widely copied by the other colonies and became the basis of the Bill of Rights. Written by George Mason, it was adopted by the Virginia Constitutional Convention on June 12, 1776.
So I say it is quite clear what principles this nation claims to hold. And as citizens, mainly speaking African-Americans, I say hold this nation to account and demand what is owed by blood.