In this powerful book, distinguished African-American political leader and thinker Randall Robinson makes a persuasive case for the restoration of the rich history that slavery and segregation severed. Drawing from research and personal experience, he shows that only by reclaiming their lost past and proud heritage can Blacks lay the foundation for a viable future. And white Americans can make reparations for slavery and the century of de jure racial discrimination that followed with monetary restitution, educational programs, and the kinds of equal opportunities that will ensure the social and economic success of all citizens.
A book that is both an unflinching indictment of past wrongs and an impassioned call to our nation to educate all Americans—black and white alike—about the history of Africa and its people, The Debt tells us in no uncertain terms what white America owes blacks and what Blacks owe themselves. Read an excerpt here.
Praise for The Debt
“Incisive…keenly observed, perceptively written.… Some of the most beautifully written anecdotes and carefully crafted prose ever seen in a book with such political purpose.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
“A book that is both unflinching in its indictment of past wrongs and an impassioned call to our nation to educate all Americans—black and white alike—about the history of Africa and its people, The Debt tells us, in no uncertain terms, what white America owes blacks and what blacks owe themselves.” —Chicago Defender
“Engaging.… Robinson continues an inportant conversation…. His anecdotes support his attempts to reclaim African heritage and empower African Americans.” —The Washington Post
“Randall Robinson eruditely highlights America’s poverty of truths pertaining to its historical and institutional abuses of Black Americans. The Debt begs the question—Will America ever be a true democracy?” —Dr. Camille O. Cosby
“Randall Robinson does it again with this follow up to his amazing memoir Defending the Spirit. He tells it like it is and we all the better—and stronger—for it.” —Edwidge Danticat, author of The Farming of Bones
“Randall Robinson is an authentic American hero and a true patriot. He loves his country but is unafraid to rebuke or expose its sins. America is indebted to her black people, and Randall makes the case for why we must not and can not accept a check marked insufficient funds.”—Tavis Smiley
“Randall Robinson’s eloquent book—The Fire Next Time, perhaps, for this generation—could help to turn a mood into a movement.”—Atlantic Monthly
“Remarkable.… An impassioned plea for America to recognize the horrible crime of slavery and its impact on people of African descent, as well as the fundamental role Africans played in the march of civilization…. Robinson has written a moving and bold testimonial.”—Emerge
“In a manner strikingly reminiscent of James Baldwin, Robinson combines acute insight, attention to the obvious but overlooked, and unpretentious breadth of vision.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Review: The Debt
“As founder and president of TransAfrica, an organization aimed at influencing U.S. policies toward Africa and the Caribbean, Robinson can be said to have contributed to the antiapartheid movement and the restoration of democracy in Haiti. Having vividly outlined the pervasiveness of American racism in his previous work, Defending the Spirit, he now summons America to acknowledge what he casts as its financial obligation to blacks for centuries of slavery and continued subjugation. Substantiating his analysis of America’s ignorance of African history and the agenda of the Clinton administration with personal stories that illustrate the impact of de facto discrimination, he reveals slavery’s legacy not only in our social and political lives, but also in the American psyche. In Robinson’s view, the incessant deification of the founding fathers (many of whom owned slaves) and the denial of the benefits gained from centuries of slave labor are, in effect, an attempt to pretend “that America’s racial holocaust never occurred.” Juxtaposing domestic racism with the sufferings of people abroad, he contends that America’s dubious foreign policy initiatives in Cuba and throughout the black world should be mitigated through debt relief. Methodically tackling one issue at a time, Robinson suggests the creation of a trust to assist in the educational and economic empowerment of African-Americans. Whether readers agree or disagree with his views, Robinson has made a definitive step in presenting these controversial and still unresolved issues.” –Publishers Weekly
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