Summary of eRumor:
A commentary attributed to Fred Reed about reparations for slavery and demands made by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the chairman of African-American studies at Harvard, and other black leaders has gone viral.
This commentary has been making the rounds for years, and “Fred Reed” appears to be a pen name that an unknown writer or writers uses to tackle controversial topics — mainly about race — without repercussions.
The commentary can be found at the website FredonEverything.org under the headline “Blacks and the Politics of Racial Extortion: Will It Work Forever?” But it’s been referred to in forwarded emails and on discussion boards as far back as 2009 as simply “Fred Reed on Black Reparations.”
The commentary begins with the setup that Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who it identifies as the chairman of African-American studies at Harvard, has demanded that “whites pay reparations to blacks” because of slavery. The commentary snipes that Fred Reed will make a deal on the subject — Reed will pay $1 million dollars for each slave that he’s personally owned.
As it turns out, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is not the chairman of the Department of African and African-Americans Studies at Harvard. Rather, Gates is as a professor and the director of the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research at Harvard.
And we couldn’t find any examples of Gates directly advocating for reparations. But in an editorial that he published in the New York Times in 2010, Gates noted that African tribal leaders had helped facilitate “the business” of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and that most slaves were not kidnapped by outsiders, contrary to popular belief. Opponents of reparations have historically used Africa’s active participation in the slave trade to argue against reparations for centuries, but Gates wrote in 2010 that President Obama — the child of an African father and an American mother — could be uniqualy qualified to “untangle the knot.”
Again, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., didn’t directly advocate for reparations. He argued that President Obama was in a unique position to “bridge the reparations divide” in the reparations argument, and to place blame on “both sides of the Atlantic.”
But, aside from the substance of the Fred Reed commentary, most readers question whether or not Fred Reed is a real person. We can’t answer definitively, but Fred Reed appears to be a pen name.
The first clue is a picture on FredonEverything.org that shows a name plate reading, “Fred Reed: based on a real person.”
Second, the bio page lists various publications where Fred Reed has supposedly published his work — including The Washingtonian, Playboy, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, just to name a few. But Fred Reed’s byline doesn’t appear anywhere in those publications. That means the character is either entirely fictional, or a real writer uses the Fred Reed pseudonym to write controversial blog posts — like the one headlined “White Males: Are They Actually Gods” — while using his or her real name to publish commentaries in well-known publications.
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