Reparations: A Global Struggle after a Global Crime φ Institute for the Black World 21st Century

Reparations: A global struggle after a global crime  φ

By Ashahed M. Muhammad -Assistant Editor- The Final CallFreedom cannot be compromised Nation of Islam minister tells a Chicago gathering focused on justice for the descendants of survivors, victims of trans-Atlantic slave trade

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Photos: Haroon Rajaee and Tim 6X

CHICAGO (FinalCall.com) – The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan told a group of political leaders, researchers and activists that true commitment and a firm unwavering demand for real justice is required, if the call for reparations is ever to be taken seriously by the governments of the earth.“Nothing is more important than the liberation of our people,” Minister Farrakhan told those gathered at the Emil Jones Convocation Center on the campus of Chicago State University April 19. “If you really want freedom, you cannot compromise with slave makers, slave masters and the collaborators,” he said.

Although he had not been feeling his best, the Minister wanted to be with the “thinkers, warriors and soldiers” in the fight for the reparations and the liberation of oppressed people all over the world.

“We have a responsibility to our ancestors,” said Minister Farrakhan during remarks lasting about 30 minutes. “What kind of generation will we be to have ancestors that have gone through what our ancestors have gone through and we’re sitting here today talking about the revitalization of a movement that should never have had to be revitalized?” he asked.

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Minister Farrakhan spoke on the subject of “Revitalizing the Reparations Movement” on the campus of Chicago State University April 19.

The meticulous research and documentation of scholars lays the base for movements to build upon and propels movements forward, noted Min. Farrakhan. “You cannot proceed for justice on assumptions. You can proceed for justice on actual facts.”“When they speak—we act! It is not about applause, it is about acting now because the talk has been done and we talk too damn much and we do too little towards our own liberation!” said the Minister.

Revitalization suggests some have lost the spirit of reparatory justice, but, this it is not a quick and easy journey, it is a lifelong struggle until justice is achieved, he noted. Part of the problem is the weak approach of those sometimes sent to speak for the oppressed but who really desire favor with an enemy who only makes promises to deceive and never honors agreements, Min. Farrakhan added.

“When you talk to power, you can’t go to power just with a cry for justice; you’ve got to have power backing your cry! You should never think that the enemy is going to give you the justice that you seek. We’ve been crying at his feet for too damn long! We’ve got to have the power to force justice!”

Cowards will always need revitalization and slaves always want to be accepted by their former slave masters, he added. White governments know the truth about what they did during the slave trade and continue to reject the call for reparations from their former slaves, he said.

“What is our response? To go back and beg some more? That’s what got you in the shape you are in! You’re litigating your damn self into poverty and want! It’s not litigation it is revolution that is needed!” the Minister thundered.

Only men and women who aren’t afraid to die for reparatory justice and who are not seeking the friendship of their former slave masters will remain steadfast, he said.

Calling European governments “criminals,” the Minister said he realizes strong talk scares those who aren’t courageous and fully committed. But, he continued, the time has arrived for direct talk about the Black condition and what is required to change it.

“The situation is radical and it needs a radical solution,” said the Minister. “I’m not leaving the Earth as a squirming punk! I speak for the dead who have no voice today!  I speak for the living who are voiceless! I speak for the unborn generations who need a voice! That’s the kind of men and women that will make reparatory justice real.”

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New life for the reparations movement?

Observers and activists agreed that the reparations movement in the United States has continuously hovered between lifeless and moribund for the last decade. Many key movement leaders, such as Hannibal Afrik, Imari Obadele and recently Chokwe Lumumba, have died. There have been real questions as to whether the reparations movement is even viable, or, simply an anachronism that has aged along with its leaders.

But in early March, the heads of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) met in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and heavily discussed reparations for a global crime against humanity—the African slave trade.

The governments of Britain, France and the Netherlands are primarily being targeted to pay compensation to Blacks throughout the African Diaspora hurt and destroyed by what is commonly called the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

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Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, has been at the forefront of the CARICOM effort. He was scheduled to be the day’s keynote speaker but was unable to make it. In his stead was Rhonda King, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines ambassador to the United Nations, and Professor Hilary Beckles, who serves as chair of the CARICOM Reparations Commission. Mr. Beckles, pro vice chancellor of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, wrote the book “Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide.”The trading of enslaved Africans lies at the foundation of the wealth inequality that exists not only in the United States but worldwide. The Western world was built through the work done, and profits generated by Blacks scattered across the globe and deposited wherever free labor was required by Europeans.

Calling reparatory justice “the greatest political movement of the 21st century,” Prof. Beckles explained reparations from responsible governments is more than just economics and finances—though both are important. It is a matter of pride, dignity, and self-respect for the victims of the slave trade to seek reparatory justice for the harm done, he said.

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He went over a 10-point plan covering all aspects of what is needed for reparatory justice—ranging from formal apology, to curbing an “explosion of chronic diseases,” such as hypertension and diabetes, which grips Blacks in the Caribbean and the U.S., to debt cancellation.There has been some tacit and direct admission of wrongdoing by European nations in recent years: The British agreed to issue a “statement of regret” and award $21.5 million to surviving Kenyans detained and tortured during the Mau Mau rebellion decades ago. In 2007 to mark the 200th anniversary of the British prohibition of slavery, then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair “expressed regret” for suffering caused by Britain’s role in the slave trade. The Haitian revolution of January 1, 1804 effectively ended slavery in that territory, but the equivalent of economic sanctions was used against Haiti as a penalty for her successful efforts at throwing off the chains of slavery and colonialism. Following the January 2010 earthquake, then French President Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly acknowledged the “wounds of colonization,” and quickly approved a financial aid package said to include millions in budgetary support for the Haitian government.

Activists say a mere “statement of regret” will not be sufficient for the horrific trafficking and enslavement of Black human beings around the world.

“It is a global struggle for a global crime,” said Prof. Beckles. “They must be held accountable for it. Our plan is to call for that justice.”

If they do not respond to the request for justice, these Western European nations will be taken to the International Court at the Hague, said activists.

“Slavery is over, but we are now in the jet stream of the consequences,” said Prof. Beckles.

During brief comments, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, pastor emeritus of Trinity United Church of Christ, said although it is a term widely used in activist and academic circles, he feels it is inaccurate to refer to a trans-Atlantic slave trade because “the Atlantic Ocean never enslaved anyone.” The slave trade was a European endeavor, he said.

Dr. Conrad Worrill, a stalwart in the reparations movement, said no matter what happens, Africans in America and abroad must continue to fight for reparations.

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“There is no statute of limitations on crimes against humanity,” said Dr. Worrill, of the Center for Inner City Studies, who helped organize the Chicago State forum alongside Dr. Ron Daniels of the Institute for the Black World 21st Century. Dr. Worrill was also among those who traveled to Durban, South Africa for the World Conference Against Racism in 2001. He witnessed Israel and the United States walk out of the conference when the question of reparations was brought up. While returning to the U.S. to discuss what took place in South Africa, the World Trade Center attack Sept. 11, refocused attention and changed the global landscape activists found. While many continued to fight to keep reparations in public view, the movement struggled to attract the masses of the people, especially young people. Despite the challenges, said Dr. Worrill, those who truly want justice cannot be weak in their call for justice.“A strong people will never give up fighting for justice and repair from those who damaged you,” he said.

Rep. John Conyers, Jr., who first introduced HR-40, the Reparation’s Study Bill, in 1989, vowed to continue to pursue the legislation no matter how long it takes. He first introduced the bill in the 101st Congress of the United States. It is now the 113th Congress.

“This is one of the most important pieces of legislations I have ever produced,” Rep. Conyers told the audience.

A global struggle, a global crime

Don Rojas, communications director for the Institute of the Black World, said President Obama has recently talked about income and wealth disparity. That discussion represents an “intellectual paradigm shift,” said Mr. Rojas, who also served as press secretary for the late Grenada Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. The revolutionary was removed from power and executed in a mercenary coup orchestrated by political rivals and Western nations before a U.S. invasion of the small country in 1983.

The reparations movement is “the great moral imperative of our time” and those who line up against it, or perhaps think it is a misguided waste of effort, are “ignorant of the moral power of an idea whose time has come,” argued Mr. Rojas.

Dr. Iva E. Carruthers, general secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc., an ecumenical group that represents a cross section of progressive Black faith leaders across the country, called the April 19 gathering a “sacred assembly.” The Proctor Conference also helped organize the Chicago State program.

“When you call a sacred assembly, you have to take the risk of hearing from the prophets, and when prophets speak, it may not be comfortable,” said Dr. Carruthers. “I think we were in the hands of master prophets in the form of Minister Louis Farrakhan and Reverend Dr. Jeremiah Wright and I think we’re in the hands of a master teacher in the form of Dr. Beckles. And if we listen to our prophets and our teachers—if we would just be still enough to feel the power of God and the righteous authority upon which we stand to speak truth, to stand on truth and to organize ourselves at any cost with those who share the vision—then this day will be fulfilled.”

Dr. Kelly Harris, director of Chicago State University’s African-American Studies Dept., enjoyed the perspectives offered by Min. Farrakhan and Prof. Beckles.

“Minister Farrakhan really gave us the charge tonight and Professor Beckles was excellent,” said  Dr. Harris. “I think Minister Farrakhan did what he always does, he made sure that we stood up and had steel in our back and that’s what we need.”

Dr. Ron Daniels called the mission of the gathering a success as the goal was to “give a spark and deliver a jolt” to the U.S.-based reparations movement. Since there’s power in the fact that Caribbean nations unanimously agreed to the 10-point program, there is now added power, he said.

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(Top left) Min. Farrakhan and Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI). In all photos clockwise, Min. Farrakhan greets students from Chicago State University as the college’s president Wayne Watson looks on.

According to Dr. Daniels, the Institute of the Black World is creating a reparations resource center on its website and will continue to help educate the public on reparations. Asked about the next generation of leaders for the movement, Dr. Daniels said that remains to be seen, but agreed “there’s a need for new blood.”“We have to see who emerges,” said Dr. Daniels. “Like anything else you have a wave, the people who are involved in it, they tire, they thin, they pass on. The question is will there be someone to pass the torch on to? So I think we need to be focusing on increasingly going at young people; teaching them, giving them history, giving them the background so they can pick up the torch and become the new wave because we need some new troops, but we also need to change the mentality. We need to be able to use some economic sanctions and other modalities to let people know we’re not playing.”

“We have to go to the universities and get them. It is there where—especially young Black men—see the contradictions, they see the differences. If there’s not massive change … even with the education they’re seeing, that’s not a ticket to a lifestyle that they’ve been promised,” said Kamm Howard of the National Coalition of Blacks For Reparations in America, or N’COBRA.

“I think once we build the connections on the university campuses with our young brothers and sisters who can also speak the language of the streets—because a lot of them are coming from the streets and that’s their ticket out—then we can begin to build a movement among the youth. We’re seeing the young people are interested … they’re asking what they can do because they’re looking for some guidance.”

Minister Farrakhan “put it in plain English” that this is a revolutionary struggle that must be fought if the current generation cares about the sacrifices of their ancestors, Mr. Howard continued. “We have to be able to stand before our ancestors and say ‘I fought for this life that you made sure that I have.’ But are we deserving of this life? And if we say we are deserving of it then we must fight to ensure that our future generations have a better life than we had.”

 

A New Case for African American Reparations: A Simple Three-Part Plan

 A New Case for African American Reparations: A Simple Three-Part Plan

 12/03/2013 

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Photo courtesy of “I Was A Slave”

The idea of reparations is not new. Yet, in today’s presumed colorblind and post-racial society, many white Americans are convinced that the enduring legacy of racial inequities facing the black community are best remedied by individual responsibility and personal accountability; that is, if African Americans would simply work harder by “pulling themselves up by their bootstraps” and stop pulling the so-called “race card,” they might actually get ahead and finally lay claim to the ever-elusive “American Dream.” In other words, from a white person’s point of view, reparations for the 346 years of chattel slavery and near-slavery like conditions of Jim Crow racism involves a call for black Americans “to do for themselves.” Black folk need to get their moral house in order.

Most whites profess individual responsibility as a means to success or failure. By ignoring the paradox that the failure of black Americans is attributed to individual responsibility, white Americans (and bright Americans) neglect to acknowledge the crippling effects of centuries-old white racism and contemporary forms of institutional prejudice anddiscrimination. Additionally, this shared, group-based understanding — implying that whites work hard while blacks apparently do not — is seriously misguided and has significant consequences for African Americans. Given the historical context of racial oppression and current white-controlled industries, white notions of merit-based success ensures that black Americans linger in a perpetual state of marginalization keenly visible across a broad spectrum of institutions like healthcare, education, housing, employment, politics, and other major domains of society.

Like white Americans, black Americans want the necessary resources to allow their children good health and achievement in life. Superior education, access to decent employment and quality health care are key among other requisites identified by a variety of sociological, epidemiological, public health, educational and social science research as important factors that influence the overall health and well-being of a society, its communities and its individuals. It is time for the nation to take responsibility for the current state of affairs for scores of black Americans living on the fringes of obsolescence. A simple three-part plan calling for group recompense will address the central racial disparities that remain trenchant within the black community and American life. With this, the US will finally offer a tangible solution to challenge the systemic conditions of deprivation known all too well by the black community.

First, we must concede that formal education is key to some semblance of full participation in US society. The problem with education, in part, stems from how schooling is unequally funded, often punishing poor white, black and brown children for their inherited circumstances in life. The most nefarious of abuses to blacks occurs in public education as they are divested of the opportunity to be educated on their terms in ways that foster success, which begins with healthy racial identity development and positive affirmation that blackness matters. When American schools began the slow and violent process of desegregation after 1954, African American students were expected to close black schools and attend historically white schools. It was hoped that by placing black students next to white students, school achievement would effortlessly improve. Instead, jobs for thousands of black teachers and administrators throughout the south were eliminated, and black students were placed into an unequal structure where they encountered a predominately white, middle-class, female teaching profession racially-primed to view blacks through a deficit lens for generations to come. This white racial frame of black inferiority lends itself to present-day microaggressions toward black students (especially black males), who are severely mistreated, misunderstood and overly pathologized in public education. This not only hinders the possibility of equal education, but it exposes the fallacy of integration. These historically white institutions were never formally prepared or adequately resourced to meet the needs of black students, and the intermingling of blacks and whites occupying the same space in no way assured equality. Currently, blacks attend under-funded urban schools in considerable numbers (ironically re-segregated from whites). Most of these urban schools are nothing more than holding pens more akin for prison preparation rather than substantive schooling for collegiate preparation. Education for African Americans and their progeny should be equally funded and staffed to those of the best public schools in the nation, and students should have the benefit of free public education through their collegiate years.

Secondly, African Americans should receive free necessary health care in all areas of life. As evidence-based research documents, protracted exposure to chronic psychological stress is shown to be physiologically and mentally corrosive for health and well-being. More importantly, exposure to race-based discrimination at the institutional and interpersonal level of society, coupled with grinding inequalities in housing, jobs, education and income parity, keeps the body’s stress response in a constant state of arousal. Disease does not exist in a vacuum. The historical domination and complete disenfranchisement of black Americans in a so-called integrated and free society gives rise to a perfect storm for disease formation deep within the cells and biological pathways of the body. Because black Americans report higher levels of racial discrimination in a number of supposedly fair and impartial institutions, they are more vulnerable to pre-mature disease in the form of high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and other serioushealth-related consequences.

Like black children exposed to the whiteness of public education, black Americans have, likewise, been exposed to a two-tiered racist healthcare system. Not too long ago, “Black disease” was considered inherent to being black rather than the cause of dehumanizing forces of systemic white racism. As health care providers pledge an oath to treat all patients equitably and with integrity, how is it possible that health disparities remain a major concern for communities of color? To lesson the burden of disease for African Americans, they should be given federally-sponsored health care and unencumbered access to high quality health care delivery services. This would allow black Americans to gain substantial ground toward group uplift with the elimination of race-based health disparities.

And finally, African Americans need to be economically empowered with the resources necessary to provide a meaningful existence and future. Black Americans, as a group, have long been denied access to wealth and wealth-generating opportunities. Between 1619 and 1865 alone, black people were robbed of millions of dollars in wages for over 222 million hours of forced labor. After 246 years of chattel slavery along with another 100 years of Jim Crow, white racism has taken a toll on black folk of all stripes — young, old, rich, poor and everything in between. To this day, blacks have considerably less personal wealth than even poor white Americans and other Americans of color. The debt owed to African Americans is severely underestimated and long overdue. Therefore, all blacks should be exempt from federal taxes for a minimum of 346 years or until the poorest black American has equal parity with the poorest white American in terms of employment, income, wealth accumulation, and improved educational and health-related outcomes.

It is well known that white people have a strong aversion to the idea of a “free ride.” Yet, white America has an extensive and bloody history of taking what it wants with no thought or concern for the lives of Native Americans, black folk and other Americans of color. White supremacy is alive and robustly active still in North America. If the practice of segregation was bad, the illusion of integration has been misery. African Americans are literally dying from the stresses of an unrelenting and uncaring white power structure. This three-part plan will allow black Americans the time to heal their communities and regain some sense of control and destiny in their lives.

 Follow Darron T. Smith, Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrDarronSmith
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Petition to Demand the U.S. Government form Task Force on Reparations for Slavery and Jim Crow

Petition to Demand the U.S. Government form Task Force on Reparations for Slavery and Jim Crow

Petition by
Jeffrey Savage
Greenville, NC

Let it be known, we are demanding that a Task Force, or Commission, be formed for reparations for the descendants of Africans who were enslaved in the United States of America for centuries.

Whereas reparations means to make amends, to repair, and to compensate, the people who were wronged;

We demand reparations on behalf of the descendants of enslaved Africans in America from the government of the United States of America;

Whereas America was built with and continues to enjoy the benefits of her centuries of forced, unpaid labor known as slavery;

Whereas, slavery in America remains the worst known atrocity in human history;

Whereas, this dehumanizing practice enabled the United States to rise to global prominence, to accumulate massive amounts of wealth, and to build the world’s most formidable military, among others achievements, to become the world’s only Superpower;

Whereas, U.S. House Bill H.R. 40, as it was originally sponsored by Rep. John Conyers, D-MI, provides a viable outline that best suits this measure. We further recognize reparations as the only way forward to move towards resolution of this human rights issue;

Whereas, the purpose and goal of this Task Force, or Commission, is to determine how reparations will be made to the descendants of the Africans enslaved in America.

Therefore, we acknowledge this as a human rights issue that demands the power and unconditional support of the President and the Congress of the United States of America and that it can be established by Executive Order of the President of the United states; and,

Therefore, we sign this petition to demand that government of the United States of America immediately form a Task Force, or Commission, whose purpose is formulate how reparations will be made to the descendants of the Africans who were brutally enslaved in this country for centuries, and who were further demoralized and oppressed for another 100+ years of Jim Crow.

Thank you for signing this petition and for encouraging all others to sign it, too.

To:
Jeffrey E. Savage
I just signed the following petition addressed to: Jeffrey E. Savage.

—————-
Demand President Obama form Reparations Task Force/Commission

We, the signers of this petition, demand that President Obama immediately issue an Executive Order to form a Presidential Task Force, or Commission, that mirrors the purpose, intent and direction of House Bill, H.R. 40, as it was originally

sponsored by Rep. John Conyers, D-MI.
The purpose and goal of this Presidential Task Force, or Commission, is to formulate a process as to how reparations will be made to the descendants of those Africans who were enslaved in America.

Without question, reparations are owed and the right to self determination is a human right that have been denied our people.

With this petition, we proudly and enthusiastically stand up for human rights by signing it. Additionally, we are asking that you pass it on to all of your contacts everywhere.

Thank you for signing and supporting this human rights issue.
—————-

Sincerely,

Jeff

Sincerely,
[Your name]

See the Petition