THE BATTLE FOR SLAVERY REPARATIONS:
FATHER AND DAUGHTER CONVICTED IN TAX CASE
By Monica Moorehead
The U.S. government and the super-rich capitalist
class that it serves wish that the struggle for
reparations would go away. Instead, this struggle will
continue to manifest itself in various forms as long
as the unfulfilled aspirations for justice and
equality exist, as a legal case in Virginia shows.
Robert Forster and his daughter, Crystal Forster, were
convicted last July for "conspiracy" to defraud the
U.S. government. Both Forsters are scheduled to soon
be sentenced in a U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va.
Taking the advice of her father, Crystal Forster had
carried out a bold act when in 2001: she filed for a
$500,000 income-tax refund. She did this as a vehicle
for compensation for the unpaid labor of her slave
Upon receiving the refund, she used some of it to pay
back her student loans and to cover the cost of her
brother's first-year tuition at a very expensive
college, Virginia Tech.
The convictions carry a maximum sentence of seven
years. The father stated from jail: "This is not an
effort to defraud the U.S. government. This was purely
a protest against the U.S. government. ....Black
people are not treated as humans, but as things by the
U.S. government. We were used as resources to enrich
this country and we get no inheritance from the wealth
we brought." (Associated Press, Oct. 23)
Forster also renounced his U.S. citizenship while in
jail. He was denied the lawyer of his choice when he
tried to fire his attorney and have him replaced by an
Like most African Americans, Forster has suffered from
racist attitudes most of his life. He had sued the
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospital for
denying him a promotion because of his nationality. He
reportedly felt very slighted when the courts awarded
him only $5,000.
In 1993, the Black-oriented magazine Essence published
an editorial urging Black people to file for a
delinquent tax rebate of over $43,000 per household.
The magazine viewed this amount as today's dollar
equivalent of the 40 acres and a mule that were
promised to the freed slaves after the Emancipation
Proclamation of 1863.
President Andrew Johnson, the pro-slavery sympathizer
who succeeded Abraham Lincoln, veteoed the 40 acres
and a mule. Johnson's racist act helped lay the basis
for overturning Black reconstruction in the South.
Forster is a tax return preparer. He took inflation
into account and, for some of his clients, increased
the amount posed in the Essence editorial twelvefold.
The Internal Revenue Service stated that more than
80,000 income tax returns were submitted in 2001
asking for non-existent slavery tax credits. The total
amount was $2.7 billion.
'THEY OWE US'
The real criminals are not the Forsters but the
in-justice system that keeps alive the legacy of
slavery today with institutionalized racism. The
primary victims of this racism are African Americans,
Latinos, Indigenous people and other peoples of color.
Every social institution is tinged with
white-supremacist ideology in order to divide and
conquer the masses.
If this were not the case, there would have been a
federal reparations program in existence long ago. No
administration has even officially apologized for the
U.S. policy of enslaving millions of African people,
let alone offered compensation to the descendants of
There are now class-action lawsuits in federal courts
where African Americans are suing U.S. corporations
for their past complicity in maintaining slavery. The
lawsuits argue that corporations such as Fleet Boston
Financial, Aetna and CSX are guilty of commiting
crimes against human ity along with profiting off of
unspeakable human suffering. The lawsuits state that
the wealth created by slavery would amount to an
estimated $1.5 trillion in unpaid wages today,
If the class-action lawsuit is won, some of the
plaintiffs plan to use the financial restitution to
establish a collective fund to provide the decent
education and health care that have been
systematically denied to African Americans for
Is it just a coincidence that people like the Forsters
get caught and convicted, and the rich don't?
Absolutely not. There exist so many legal loopholes
that the U.S. super-rich can manipulate to avoid
paying millions of dollars in taxes without being
convicted, much less winding up in court.
This is another example of which class benefits from
the capitalist system. It is certainly not the
workers, the poor, the oppressed or what is left of
the middle class. It is the capitalist class composed
of corporate heads and investors who are laughing all
the way to the bank.
As long as the horrific legacy of U.S. slavery is
alive and well, the struggle for social equality and
justice remains inevi table. The Forsters deserve the
support and admiration of every working and poor
person of all nationalities for taking a heroic stand