This Post was Co-Written By Cynthia McDonald
We were assisted in composing this post by a bottle of Marchesi Sierra Foothills Zinfandel 2019. Bold with medium tannins. Foreground of plums, blueberries, blackberries, and vanilla. An abiding concert of cherries, raspberries, and muted strawberries. Soft acidity. Long but elegant finish of black pepper and cinnamon.
“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others…
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.”
Matthew 23:1-7 and 27 NIV
A bad rebuttal deserves a great counter-rebuttal.
Nkechi Taifa Esq. is the President and CEO of The Taifa Group LLC, she is also an Advocacy Director for Criminal Justice & Convener for the Justice Roundtable Coalition, a Commissioner with the National African American Reparations Commission [NAARC], and the latest author of misrepresentative arguments concerning reparations specificity and what forms reparations should take.
An up-to-date contributor to the disingenuous fallacy pool.
She decided to write an open letter to Rolling Stone Magazine through the post-site Medium.com. We suggest everyone read it. This open letter (published July 15, 2021) was regarding her disappointment with Rolling Stone’s publishing of A. Kirsten Mullin’s and Dr. William A. Darity Jr’s. article “10 Things We Get Wrong About Reparations” (published June 19, 2021). She focuses on three things that she feels are wrong with their article. But we found several things in error with hers.
Let’s take a look.
Opening Section – Third Paragraph
“I was disappointed, then, to see that your magazine ran ’10 Things We Get Wrong About Reparations,’ written by Kirsten Mullen and William Darity Jr. PhD., the co-authors of ‘From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century.’ The book and the authors have gotten much ink and electricity for their so-categorized pro-reparations arguments. But for many of us movement veterans they are beginning to sound more like detractors than allies.”
Before we go into the “meat” of Counselor Taifa’s article, we would like to first focus on an interesting paragraph that is the third one of her opening statement. Here, Counselor Taifa implores an argument from authority when making her juxtaposing statement regarding “veterans in the movement.” Yep. What she intentionally does not mention is that Dr. Darity and A. Kirsten Mullin are no neophytes to this work. She clearly knows this, believe us.
As of this writing, Dr. Darity has published thirteen books that we know of. These writings, along with countless articles, papers, reports, posts, tweets, lectures, and interviews on the subject of reparations. He has been a staunch advocate regarding reparations policy for over thirty years. Dr. Darity has spoken on several occasions at NAARC and N’COBRA events about this very topic (remember?).
A. Kirsten Mullen, in her own right, has been active in social justice and race issues through her work as a folklorist and historian. She was a member of the Freelon Adjaye Bond team that was awarded the commission to design the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.
As a faculty member with the Community Folklife Documentation Institute, she trained students to research and document North Carolina’s African American musical heritage. A. Kirsten Mullen was a consultant on the North Carolina Museum of History’s “North Carolina Legends” and Civil Rights exhibition projects. Her writing can be found in a plethora of museum catalogs, journals, and commercial media. This includes the article: “Black Culture and History Matter.” Published February 2016 in “The American Prospect” magazine. The article examines the politics and dynamics of funding Black cultural institutions.
A sentence in the last paragraph of her opening statement reads: “Mullen and Darity are gifted with academic pedigrees and intellectual sweat on the issue of reparations.” OK. For the sake of brevity, let us focus on Dr. Darity’s academic pedigrees for now:
- B.A. – Brown University (1974)
- Ph.D – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1978)
- Kenneth G. Elzinga Distinguished Teaching Award (2002)
- Fellow – Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences (2011)
- Samuel Z. Westerfield Award – National Economic Association (2012)
The aforementioned academic and professional achievements of Dr. Darity and A. Kirsten Mullen were not “gifted.” What you see are the results of hard study, hard work, and a well-developed intentional expertise on the subject of reparations. No institution “gifted” them anything. At the same time, judging from the obvious lack of research, logic, and general intellectual rigor displayed by Counselor Taifa in the writing of her “open letter” rebuttal – we could seriously speculate that her Juris Doctor was possibly “gifted” in some kind of way. We would suggest that The George Washington University Law School, Howard University, and whatever Bar Association(s) she may be a member of, to take another look.
As far as Darity and Mullen “sounding more like detractors than allies.” Yes, of course. They are allies of Pure Reparations. At the same time – they are detractors (rightly) of the aims and practices of The NAARC/N’COBRA Axis. Understand Family: That is the correct and righteous distinction between Darity and Mullen’s appropriately targeted detraction, and superlative ally-ship.
Onwards to the “meat” of her article:
First Example – First Paragraph
“Mullen and Darity are leading a superfluous crusade bordering on a bullying campaign to ‘Fix HR40,’ the impact of which distracts from hard, decades-long work. They continue to insist that the bill is limited to a study commission; that its substance and structure is weak; and that it fails to establish specific directives to Congress – such as directing the commission to identify ‘Black American descendants of U.S. slavery’ as the eligible recipients; directing the commission to develop plans that set elimination of the racial wealth gap as a core target; and ensuring the prioritization of cash payments. These charges are either misleading or redundant to what the bill already does.”
OK. Now what Counselor Taifa labels a “bullying campaign” to correct HR40 raises her usage of the word “superfluous” to inflammatory on her part. We didn’t know that could be done. But she did it. The citizen-initiated and sustained “Fix HR40” campaign was done without inducement by Darity or Mullen to draw general public awareness to the details of a bill to create a commission to study reparations. HR40 as presently composed misses the mark on what that bill “should” do.
Just because the bill, first introduced in 1989 by the late U.S. Congressman John Conyers, had decades-long work behind it to get it out of committee and put towards a House Floor vote – does not mean that the bill itself is appropriately structured for us, ultimately beneficial to us, or above intelligent scrutiny by the affected people themselves. “Decades-long work” doesn’t mean anything when that work is expended on things that logically and potentially won’t work.
Doesn’t matter if that work is expended Behind or in Front of it.
Legitimate scrutiny and correction is what the “Fix HR40” campaign was set to accomplish. Not to “bully.” We would like to ask Counselor Taifa: “When is it ‘bullying’ to engage in political advocacy regarding an issue that directly and materially affects you?” Aren’t citizens supposed to engage in the political process ESPECIALLY when there is a bill percolating on Capitol Hill that can directly impact one’s future? One’s children’s future? Justice for one’s parents and grandparents? What is she saying? Is she saying that Black citizens should not read bills and question possible errors or aspects of certain bills – errors or aspects that may be ineffective, non-existent, or detrimental? To not be politically engaged?
Is that what she is saying?
We think she should respect and engage The People.
For Example: Every single Black American Freedman that we have talked to about this issue thinks that clearly identifying “Black American descendants of United States chattel slavery” as the only eligible recipients is a good idea. They also think that the elimination of the racial wealth gap as a core target is a good idea. They [the people] definitely think that the prioritization of cash payments is a good idea. Yep. And ninety five percent of those same people are vehemently opposed to Black immigrants or immigrant citizen descendants receiving the benefits of – or possibly shaping, managing, or administering any part of an American Freedmen reparations program (“How does that happen?” They ask.).
And specificity is not xenophobic or nativist. Specificity is a necessary component in any justice demand. Ask CARICOM (we will get into that later). Ask any decent class-action specialist attorney. Ask ANY licensed attorney. Let’s make sense. We do not see anything unreasonable or out of place regarding legitimate inputs from those who are directly supposed to benefit from this bill. Those are the affected. Those are the specifically injured – deprived and uniquely rightful citizens.
The other thing: “If The NAARC/N’COBRA Axis is composed of folks that are such ‘experts’ on reparations – why is this issue taking so ‘decades long’ for these so ‘long-standing’ organizations to so accomplish? If ever? What is taking so long?”
First Example – Second Paragraph
“Despite constant correction to the false impressions they continue to sow, the bill is already tasked with no longer merely studying, but also developing proposals for the Congress to consider. Moreover, HR40 does, in fact, address the Black-white wealth gap, even if the article’s authors deny it. As the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America [N’COBRA] has written in its critique of the authors: “…the legislation points out in specificity the wealth gap as a lingering effect of the crimes of enslavement, Jim Crow (apartheid) and post Jim Crow harms. And determines the duty to remedy and reverse the situation (wealth disparity) with appropriate policies, programs, and projects.”
That is what she wrote. So – let’s explore HR40 itself to see if it is actually addressing the Black-White wealth gap. Section 2 – Paragraph 6 reads as follows:
“(6) as a result of the historic and continued discrimination, African Americans continue to suffer debilitating economic, educational, and health hardships including but not limited to having nearly 1,000,000 Black people incarcerated; an unemployment rate more than twice the current White employment rate; and an average of less than 1/16 of the wealth of White families, a disparity which has worsened, not improved over time.”
This (the underlined part) is the only sentence that even alludes to the income and wealth gap between Black and white families. This is cursory at best. A legislative language drive-by. It is noteworthy that this language was added to HR40 after the “Fix HR40” campaign started its political marketing efforts, and not before when this bill was reintroduced in 2019. If “bullying” can definitively address the Black-White wealth gap, then; we think we should “bully” more.
Dr. Darity has been on the crusade that a reparations program’s first effective accomplishment is to close the wealth gap between white and Black families. According to an article posted by the Brookings Institute: “The Black-white wealth gap left Black households more vulnerable” – by Emily Moss, Kriston McIntosh, Wendy Edelberg, and Kristen Broady (December 8, 2020):
“In the second quarter of 2020, white households – who account for sixty percent of the U.S. population – held eighty four percent ($94 trillion) of total household wealth in the United States. Comparatively, Black households – who account for thirteen point four percent of the U.S. population – held just four percent ($4.6 trillion) of total household wealth.”
In a bill that is supposed to “study” and “propose” resolutions to this problem, a mere allusion to the wealth gap is not enough. An “address” in this case (Kamm Howard of N’COBRA) must mean more than just saying: “Hello!” We are not convinced that Counselor Taifa has actually read A. Kirsten Mullen and Dr. Darity’s book (at least not seriously), because if she did, she would know that the book makes a quite detailed case for reparations that not only covers slavery but all the inequalities and adverse policies suffered by Foundational Black Americans as a result of Jim Crow and post-Jim Crow harms. And Why are we not convinced?
Because in Part 5 – Chapter 11 of “From Here to Equality,” the authors write:
“The message of the Black Lives Matter movement encapsulates the racialized injuries of the 150 years since the end of legal American slavery. The movement’s message alerts us to the many ways in which Black life has been devalued and unprotected so thoroughly in the United States. The discount rate on Black humanity has been enormous. A variety of metrics indicate that, even after the end of Jim Crow, Black lives are routinely assigned a worth approximately thirty percent that of white lives.”
You Know – of all the major professions (ahem…). Lawyers, as a matter of day to day professional proficiency are required to be the most literate of the literate. It is possible that Counselor Taifa may be suffering from a mild form of dyslexia. And that could be impacting her comprehension. Totally understandable. Or, could she possibly have a severe form of just not reading the book? Which is it?
First Example – Third Paragraph
“In fact, HR40 gives the commission the power to examine all of the institutions of American society and create proposals for repair in not only the wealth gap but also housing, education, and social welfare, including the criminal punishment system. Indeed, fixing a wealth gap alone – with politically juvenile calls to simply “cut the check!” – won’t stop mass incarceration and other forms of discrimination. As any Black professional athlete, popular entertainer, or successful entrepreneur can tell you, middle and upper-class Blacks get physically harassed and shot at by police too.”
Incredible statement conflating several unrelated issues. Ahh – Reparations is about filling and levelling the wealth gap First (she’s supposed to be a “reparations expert”). Establishing Ongoing and continuous repair Second (she’s a “veteran” of the movement). And the assured installation of Specific policies and protections Third (not sure what NAARC “veterans” do). See? No one except Counselor Taifa said anything about “fixing a wealth gap alone.”
Those “politically juvenile” (as she describes) calls to “cut the check” are just a creative construction from the young people in the streets further popularizing the issue of reparations into an encapsulated, quick to convey form. That’s what young Black people do. Can’t stop that Folks. That popularization came about as a result of the work of the previous incarnation of the ADOS movement. Done in less than three years. This “word on the street” establishment and promotion was something that The NAARC/N’COBRA Axis was not able to do in thirty plus years. If that “cut the check” popularization came about as a result of NAARC and N’COBRA activism – Counselor Taifa wouldn’t have a damned thing to say about it.
And this one: “…’cut the check!’ – won’t stop mass incarceration and other forms of discrimination. As any Black professional athlete, popular entertainer, or successful entrepreneur can tell you, middle and upper-class Blacks get physically harassed and shot at by police too.” Huh??? What has that got to do with anything reparational? OK? Did Jewish Holocaust reparations stop anti-Semitism? No? Was it supposed to? Did the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 stop Asian hate? Was it supposed to? Because it didn’t. And it didn’t – because it wasn’t supposed to.
“The authors grumble about the salaries and structure of the proposed commission. What they are actually upset about is that the membership of the commission to be formed by HR40 includes six members ‘selected from major civil society and reparations organizations that have historically championed the cause of reparatory justice.’ Not sure why that should be an issue of contention, as it is a positive departure from the norm of not centering perspectives of advocates who are actually doing the work.”
Quote: “The authors grumble about the salaries and structure of the proposed commission.” Yep. Not just the authors Darity and Mullen. But myself, Arthur Ward, my co-author on this post Cynthia McDonald, and anyone with an IQ above that of a Pan African coconut that took the time to independently read the actual HR40 text itself would have critical things to say as well. There are thousands of us out there. Not hard to find at all. Some are legally trained and some are otherwise educated (but commensurately literate) that have came to the same conclusion:
“We know Counselor. We’re all stupid.”
Counselor Taifa’s statement about the authors’ grumblings is amusing. She prefers to feign ignorance as to why there is an issue of contention concerning the salaries of the proposed commission members and “the six seats selected from major civil society and reparations organizations that have historically championed the cause of reparatory justice.” Let us visit why this is a point of dissention:
A. Most commissioners that are selected by Congress are not salaried. They receive compensation for their travel and other expenses incurred while doing the work. The salaries proposed in HR40 for the commissioners and their staffs are GS-18 which are in excess of $200K per year. See the excerpted text of HR40 below:
(a) Staff. – The Commission may, without regard to section 5311(b) of title 5, United States Code, appoint and fix the compensation of such personnel as the Commission considers appropriate.
(b) Applicability Of Certain Civil Service Laws. – The staff of the Commission may be appointed without regard to the provisions of title 5, United States Code, governing appointments in the competitive service, and without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of such title relating to classification and General Schedule pay rates, except that the compensation of any employee of the Commission may not exceed a rate equal to the annual rate of basic pay payable for GS-18 of the General Schedule under section 5332 of title 5, United States Code.
You See? They are making sure to stack that money – aren’t they? Advocacy is expensive. Isn’t it? To the tune of $200K plus – a year! OK? To “study” stuff that has already been studied. OK? And to MAYBE come to a productive conclusion? OK? This is what you pick up when you READ STUFF and tread heavily through the high thickets of Pan African-rendered legislative English. The next time we ourselves need expert help in putting together a self-serving bill – we will definitely enlist the professional services of The NAARC/N’COBRA Axis.
They are just good at this.
B. The original bill did not have an ending date for the Commission. That time containment would not have happened without the “bullying” efforts of the “Fix HR40” campaign. The “commission” could have met in perpetuity without creating or committing to a single reparations proposal. How Long?
C. Watch This: The six seats selected from major civil society and reparations organizations that have historically championed the cause of reparatory justice is literally The NAARC/N’COBRA Axis writing themselves into the bill to make sure their people are selected to be a part of the commission. We understand after all the years put in advocating for reparations why certain folks would want to sit their fat behinds in those seats. To do all the reparational talking. You Know?
But let us look at that – like this: “If a child needs a transplant, and his parent has advocated for an inordinate amount of time to get that operation done for that child – (and that parent is not a transplant specialist) does that parent’s advocacy simultaneously allow them the qualifications to do the surgery itself?”
Just a question.
We don’t believe Counselor Taifa or anyone involved in The NAARC/N’COBRA Axis have the qualifications nor the proper intent. They are potentially involved with negotiating the outcome of a bill THAT WILL materially affect some thirty-six to forty plus millions of us. In Now And Justice. As the solely affected group, American Freedmen have a fundamental right to not only know everything about this issue – and to have an effective say regarding whom will be speaking for us. We should also have an effective say in what they will be doing as well.
That should be understandable.
D. It is noteworthy that both organizations working closely with one another have reparations proposals that no doubt they will try to force into the official proposals created by the HR40 commission. Some of the proposals they champion on their websites (their true goals) are highly problematic. Such as:
- The Repatriation Program Part One – “Africans in America who choose to exercise the right to return will be provided with sufficient monetary resources to become productive citizens in their new home and shall be aided in their resettlement by a Black controlled agency funded by the federal government to perform this function.” OK. One thing we’d like to know: “If this aspect of their proposal is accomplished – will or can NAARC and N’COBRA secure working agreements from African governments to make repatriation a seamless process on the other end for American Freedmen?” That would be nice. African Americans and others from the Diaspora are not recognized as eligible Africans by African governments. No visa or visitation considerations. No nothing.
- The Repatriation Program Part Two – We only ask because we have noticed that the most vocal Pan-Africans have not repatriated to Africa. Have you seen any? We also do not know of any Pan-Africans that at least hold dual-citizenship. We think? No – we know by sight that Pan-Africans do not want to live in Africa. They still live here. No ownership of a second home. No business ties. Not even a dog. If any are found – let us know. Acquiring citizenship in any African country is a Herculean effort for most members of the Diaspora. It is also not worth it. American Freedmen that want to live in Africa should go of their own volition and dime. Want Citizenship? Are you kidding? African embassies and consulates will laugh your Black self right out the door. Understand that repatriation is nothing but Pan African babble.
- Reparations Being Expended to Persons that are not Descendants of American Slavery – From the NAARC website: “NAARC firmly asserts that reparations should not be restricted to people of African descent who can prove their lineage to what is termed ‘American’ enslavement.” AND: “We strongly affirm the right of all people of African descent in the U.S. to receive reparations, irrespective of when they arrived here or their country of origin.” Freely giving the recompense from the struggle of our grandparents and parents to any Black person like Halloween candy. “Just show up!” This would be the world’s first fly-in reparations program. A NAARC and N’COBRA production. WOW. American Freedmen should gratefully accept their $3.64 reparations check.
- Reparations Functioning as a Source of attached Grants and Loans for Persons Seeking Affordable Housing. Ahh Family. The word “loan” or any association with a “loan” should NEVER be part of a reparations program. Anything you have to pay back is NOT reparations. As an aside, American Freedmen are even locked out by The NAARC/N’COBRA Axis from running a fake reparations program. Fake! The Chairman (as of this writing) of this fraudulent reparations program in Evanston Illinois is Peter Braithwaite – a Jamaican(!?). How?
- Land Transfers and Management to be controlled by The NAARC/N’COBRA Axis – “Substantial tracts of government/public land in the South and other regions of the country be transferred to the National Reparations Trust Authority with full autonomy in terms equivalent to the sovereignty granted to Native people over reservations awarded to them. These lands are to be utilized for major educational, commercial, industrial, economic/business and health/wellness institutions and enterprises to benefit people of African descent.” Really? A “National Reparations Trust Authority?” OK.
Now who is gonna be running this? The Pan-Africans? This “National Reparations Trust Authority” was mentioned four times in separate sections of NAARC and N’COBRA’s proposals. Who are these “people of African descent?” Anybody Black from anywhere? We thought any reparations dispersals would specifically be for “American Freedmen.” This so-called “Trust Authority” is intended to operate outside of the Federal Government. Outside of American Freedmen oversight and advisement. We have serious reservations regarding an autonomous authority managing any aspect of Foundational Black American reparations. If land is given – direct transfers should be made after individual plans are shown, and land-management qualifications are acquired. That is the way to go for those that want land.
We do not need or want Pan-African management of any American Freedmen reparations resources. Period.
Third Example – First Paragraph
“Finally, an upfront requirement that the commission focus reparations efforts only on ‘Black American descendants of U.S. slavery,’ a misnomer in and of itself, is not only premature, but defeatist, if not cynical. (Note: the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade was a global event that dispersed enslaved Africans in the American Continent and the Caribbean, and Blacks are demanding reparations not just from America but from the United Kingdom as well.)”
“Whom is the commission supposed to focus reparation efforts on Counselor?”
With this – Counselor Taifa of NAARC is again engaging in fallacious arguments which we’d conjecture that she ought to know better. She is occasionally a lawyer. “Black American Descendants of U.S. Slavery” is no more a misnomer than “Enslaved African Descendants in America.” No More. OK? It is well known that the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was a global event. Yes. But the question is how the institution of slavery was handled in a disaggregated sense here, here, and here at each sovereign termination of the Atlantic transit. Every time. The question is always: “Where did individuals ultimately land?” Those landings were accepted by traders here, here, and here under different, separate – autonomous governments. Separate. Those governments had and have their own constitutions, laws, policies, structures, imposed slave cultures – and abolition timelines.
And those other operations had Nothing to do with the United States.
HR40 is (or should be) a bill regarding only the United States. Now: “Get this Pan-Africans. HR40 should not be a bill to address other countries that practiced slavery!”
Those other countries should deal with their own issues, deal with their own people, address the correct perpetrators, and pay their own bills. The United States should not be pinned as the world’s default paymaster to compensate for the criminal activities of other countries. Any particular robber is not responsible for all robberies. A justice claim has to equally provide justice for both the victim and the accused. Justice for both the potentially compensating government – and the potentially compensated group. This should be a justice-grounded bill and commission that in finality – exclusively addresses the historic ills of the descendants of United States Chattel Slavery and the exclusively domestic aftermaths that only American Freedmen have suffered. Full Stop.
There ARE NO operating reparations commissions outside of the United States that include even the possibility of Native Black Americans being included in their justice claims. None. They make our exclusion quite clear on their websites – like CARICOM. The Caribbean Commission has fifteen countries organized in the Caribbean archipelago and one continental country in South America (Guyana). And Again – the United States is definitely not one of those countries.
As of this writing – Jamaica’s GOVERNMENT was recently in the news petitioning reparations from the British Government. We took a look at various media platforms reporting this – and American Freedmen were nowhere in there nowhere. And nowhere else. You See? When NAARC and N’COBRA were asked if they would petition the Jamaican Government for Foundational Black Americans to be included in this claim, the N’COBRA twitter person replied:
“No. And it is still a stupid question based on brainwashing & programming from a social media hashtag phenomenon. So you are asking if we as citizens of the USA are going to get in on reparations of a sovereign country & government without being citizens nor residents of that country? These questions are mostly emotional without much thought huh?”
Counselor Taifa’s own organizational affiliation is recognizing a claim that is specific to the people that was harmed by a particular sovereign entity – to the particular citizens of said country (ahem). Notice how in other countries that when it comes to matters of potential reparational distributions, their money is never “Pan Africanized.” Even the N’COBRA Twitter person is aware of that. See? And how American-lineaged specificity is conflated with nativism is lost to us.
More on that at the bottom of this post.
Third Example – Second Paragraph
“Using Mullen’s and Darity’s ‘native only’ Black folk schematic route, the genealogy companies would get rich researching an estimated 47 million Black folk, creating a process that combats unreliable record-keeping, name and identity changes due to both self-determination and escaping from Klan violence, which will likely span a decade if not more. And with the infamous one-drop rule still part of American life, there could likely be many white people demanding to be proven Black – particularly if there is a check to be cut linked to traces of melanin.”
Counselor Taifa followed her previous utterance with this statement. So here we have an indirect admission that she has never read “From Here To Equality,” let alone the article she is rebutting – OR she is an incredibly unashamable liar. In the article “Ten Things We Get Wrong About Reparations” the authors state:
“Actually, it is straightforward for claimants for Black reparations to establish eligibility under the following criteria: Eligible recipients should be Black Americans who are descendants of persons enslaved in the US who were denied the promised 40 acres. They also must have self-identified as Black, African American, Afro-American, or Negro for twelve years prior to the enactment of a reparations program or commission, whichever comes first.
A Black forebear who was at least ten years old in 1870 and appears in the Census by name but did not appear in the 1860 records, quite likely was born enslaved. To meet the identity standard, an individual can make public their response to the self-reported race question on the Census.
In From Here To Equality, we recommend a reparations study commission authorize an agency staffed with professional genealogists across the country to assist individuals with establishing their claims at no charge.”
To further illuminate such issues away from Counselor Taifa’s straw man argument. The authors write in “From Here To Equality” Part 6 – Chapter 13:
“We advance two criteria to determine eligibility for a Black reparations program. First, U.S. citizens would need to establish that they had at least one ancestor who was enslaved in the United States after the formation of the republic. Second, they would have to prove that they self-identified as ‘Black,’ ‘Negro,’ or ‘Afro-American’ at least 12 years before the enactments of the reparations program or the establishment of a congressional or presidential commission ‘to study and develop reparations for African Americans’ – whichever comes first. The first criterion, of course, could produce lucrative opportunities for private genealogists, but these investigations also could be facilitated by an arm of the professional (civil service) staff specializing in genealogical research for the agency that administers the reparations program.”
Is that clear enough Family? Now, the Smithsonian notes that before 1965, Black people of foreign birth residing in the United States were nearly invisible. According to the 1960 Census, their percentage of the population was to the right of the decimal point. But after 1965, men and women of African descent entered the United States in ever-increasing numbers. So this straw man argument of unobtainable factors to determine eligibility is groundless and inaccurate.
To personally note the co-author of this post Cynthia McDonald, she was able to trace her lineage back to slavery in less than thirty minutes using the U.S. Census. Also, in “From Here To Equality,” the authors speak of other ways outside of genealogy companies to determine eligibility like the census and also slave schedules which are more accurate than Counselor Taifa states. In many families a careful organization of successive birth and death certificates would be good enough. Without genealogical research! Non-professional! Cheap!
In the case of the other co-author of this post (Arthur Ward) – his great-great grandmother was born in 1864 (one year before the Emancipation Proclamation). In America! She died in 1962 at the age of ninety-eight. Arthur Ward was six years old in 1962. Maybe a death certificate? So, we are not sure of what Counselor Taifa is getting at. Perhaps Counselor Taifa may want to re-examine her statements. Because with little effort, one can see that they don’t hold water.
Third Example – Third Paragraph
“Mullen’s and Darity’s narrow nativism and demand for scientific categorization, backed up by old and probably unreliable U.S. Census data, is a significant step back from the Black united front that Black reparations advocates have been advocating since the days of Queen Mother Audley Moore, the Harlem activist who promoted reparations from the 1930’s until her 1997 death. It can’t be coincidental that at the very moment organized and researched Black reparations efforts for Black communities are happening simultaneously around the Western World, elite scholarship emerges that challenges clear perspectives and promotes economic individualism. HR40 requires complex conversations, but not ones that propagate confusion and disunity.”
Everyone that is astutely aware of the history of Black liberation movements in America is certainly aware of the Honorable Queen Mother Audley Moore. She was most definitely the Pan African’s – Pan African to be sure. She was also a fierce advocate of reparations. This same woman on the one hand was a founder of “The Universal Association Of Ethiopian Women.” And on the separate other hand founded “The Committee For Reparations For Descendants Of U.S. Slaves.”
We understand Queen Mother Moore to be staunchly Pan African. Got that. But why would she specify “descendants of U.S. slaves” in this instance? Was she practicing “narrow nativism” as well? “Xenophobia?” Does “Pan-Africanism” as a retort apply in every instance of contention American Freedmen may have with their government? We don’t think so. Do you?
The quality – the usefulness of a book cannot be judged by its cover. But most of the time we can understand a book’s particular concentration – its precise topic as indicated by what is written on the cover. Is that not true? Right? If Queen Mother Moore called her other organization precisely: “The Committee For Reparations For Descendants Of U.S. Slaves” – could that be what she meant and intended?
What does the “cover” say?
The main issue with The NAARC/N’COBRA Axis is having and maintaining an African Diasporan sensibility for reparations versus those who may be oriented as ADOS, FBA, Freedmen, et cetera – that are grounded in American specificity. Let us get with the facts. The United States has always practiced specificity grounded reparations in the form of compensative legislation or Civil Suit since 1789.
No reparations legislation or the like has ever been “pan” anything. Reparations has ALWAYS been specific and targeted. That is not nativist or xenophobic. How? That is just the way legitimate reparations programs that are actually reparations programs are structured and deployed. Another useless straw man argument. We don’t understand why Counselor Taifa and her Pan African associates would like to try something new (and stupid) – now that our reparational turn looks to be on the horizon. And they are supposed to be the “experts?”
We love this quote: “… elite scholarship emerges that challenges clear perspectives and promotes economic individualism. HR40 requires complex conversations, but not ones that propagate confusion and disunity.” Oh. OK.
The main thing that The NAARC/N’COBRA Axis has been doing over the past thirty plus years has been to intentionally scramble and obfuscate clear and correct perspectives regarding reparations. Consequently promoting confusion and disunity. Kinda like what we see now. The Counselor says that HR40 requires “complex conversations.” “Complex conversations” in what? Chinese? Ahh – NO Sweetheart. Reparations, despite the various required components that must be stated and worked out to make a complete reparations program, is simple, easily reasoned, concrete, and straightforward. Added and unnecessary complexity is not required. And anyone that tells you that “complex conversations” are needed – is trying to get something over on you through complex conversations.
Counselor Taifa rounds her rebuttal with an appeal to emotion and personal credulity as she recounts standing at a Washington D.C. press conference listening, “surrounded by a rainbow of interracial faith-based activism.” So Spiritual! We take nothing away from her inspiring experience, but we do have severe oughts with her analysis of Dr. Darity and A. Kirsten Mullen’s article and overall ideology concerning Foundational Black American reparations. No rainbows needed.
We take umbrage that Counselor Taifa seems to think that average American Freedman should not take interest in this issue and demand that it be treated correctly so the maximum benefit to the right people could be garnered. A Repeat: “Reparations for the descendants of American Freedmen is NOT for every member of the African Diaspora NOR every Black United States citizen. Only those who absorbed and inherited the accrued disadvantages of slavery, Jim Crow, and beyond. Counselor Taifa is well aware that is Not or should be all Black people.
What is the good Counselor trying to pull?
While We Are On The Subject Of HR40
At this point – we would like to do a small HR40 focus. There is one thing that we want all thirty six million Native Black Americans to understand. The NAARC/N’COBRA Axis regard HR40 and the reparations issue itself to be their personal property. We are not being facetious. They actually believe this. We want everyone to notice how petulant and aggressively defensive they get when contrary views are expressed or precise questions are asked. Especially Dr. Ron Daniels of NAARC. They have perfected conversational devices like evasion, fake indignation, adding complexities where none are needed, deflection, arguments from authority, and a nearly imperceptible but elegant ability to change the subject. And we have no idea what they are doing behind closed congressional doors.
Questions. We can’t prove it. But we wonder if The NAARC/N’COBRA Axis is an undermining agent for the Democratic Party. (?) Whose purpose is in actuality – to destroy reparations. (Nancy Pelosi?). OR – if reparations are accomplished, is their intent – that those resources will be converted and redirected to purposes, places and people that they should not be intended for and excluding American Freedmen from their own reparations? This being done through questionable constructions like the NAARC proposed “National Reparations Trust Authority.” Along with newly created consultancies and “expert” organizations like “FirstRepair” of Evanston. You See?
We can’t definitively say this is true. We do not have direct, demonstrable proof of the inside conversations. No proof of the content of electronic communications or with whom those communications are with. Or why. Sir Hilary Beckles of CARICOM? What about him? Why is he – a Caribbean, consequential in HERE? In THIS reparational space? No proof of the inner thoughts of the conveners nor the commissioners of these organizations. But we outside observers cannot help what things “look like” to us. Because that’s what they “Look Like.” Mentalities, attitudes, and intentions do have a natural, non-proactive, osmotic, and unconscious tendency to “surface” to a degree.
To be observed and discerned.
That is nature. You know? And – we are open to correction.
Question: “Why bring this up?” We bring this up because the disturbing “Look Like” is embodied in three things we can see. Like:
- The Current Text of HR40 itself – specifically Section Six.
- The People Actually Shaping American Freedmen Reparations.
- Open Non-Specificity.
One – The Current HR40 Text – Section Six
Reading and re-reading the current text of HR40 made us focus on Section Six – which covers “Administrative Provisions.” Remember that the main unelected and unsupervised editor of HR40 is Kamm Howard (Male Co-Chair of N’COBRA). Also remember that the actual (not stated) mission of The NAARC/N’COBRA Axis is to not accomplish reparations. But to use the (continuing) reparations issue for the personal enrichment of the commissioners and conveners. A hustle. Section Six is the “money shot” of HR40. Especially subsections (c), (d), and (e) specifically.
(c) Experts And Consultants. – The Commission may procure the services of experts and consultants in accordance with the provisions of section 3109(b) of title 5, United States Code, but at rates for individuals not to exceed the daily equivalent of the highest rate payable under section 5332 of such title.
Even though N’COBRA has not accomplished reparations at no time anywhere – even after more than thirty years in operation, they put themselves and their associates out in front of everything and everyone as the “experts” of reparations. This subsection opens the door for individual members of NAARC and N’COBRA to establish consultancies, research concerns, and advising “non-profits” to non-productively “assist” in developing reparations policies and programs. They also use long-standing organizations like certain chapters of the NAACP as “fronts” to advance their agenda. If this commission convenes in the way that the Axis wants it to – expect to see that list of “experts and consultants” to only be slick Caribbeans and grifting Pan Africans.
Just watching!!! – As we write – consultancies are being created like the newly established “FirstRepair” founded by Robin Rue Simmons. For those that don’t know – she is the one along with N’COBRA that did a failed “Local Reparations” effort when she was an alderman in Evanston Illinois (she is now closely associated with NAARC). The Evanston program (as of this writing) is literally falling apart. Evanstonians are seeing this program for the scam that it is. Remember – this program was conceived and structured by “reparations experts.” OK?
“FirstRepair” is supposed to be an organization that is “Advocating For Local Reparations Nationally.” Just another way to exploit the reparations issue gravy-train. Expect to see more of these in the near future.
(d) Administrative Support Services. – The Commission may enter into agreements with the Administrator of General Services for procurement of financial and administrative services necessary for the discharge of the duties of the Commission. Payment for such services shall be made by reimbursement from funds of the Commission in such amounts as may be agreed upon by the Chairman of the Commission and the Administrator.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) produced a cost estimate for: “HR40, Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act” on May 17, 2021. The estimated spending subject to appropriation for the 2021-2026 Fiscal Year came to $20 million. The HR40 bill after mark-up still reads $12 million – but the CBO office’s estimate of $20 million is the real deal. The actual potential expenditure. Statutory pay-as-you-go procedures apply to this potential appropriation. These are excerpts from that cost estimate:
“HR40 would establish a 15-member commission to study the effects of slavery and discriminatory policies on African Americans and recommend appropriate remedies, including reparations. The commission would report its findings and recommendations to the Congress 18 months after its first meeting and terminate 90 days after the support is submitted.
HR40 would authorize the appropriation of $20 million for expenses of the commission, including payroll and support costs for members and support staff. Assuming appropriation of the authorized amount, CBO estimates that implementing the bill would cost $20 million over the 2021-2026 period.
CBO assumes that the bill will be enacted late in fiscal year 2021. Because of the lag between enactment and appointing members to the commission, CBO does not expect there would be any budgetary effects in 2021.
Finally, HR40 would authorize the commission to accept monetary gifts (which are recorded as reductions in direct spending) that could be subsequently spent without further appropriation action. CBO estimates this provision would have a negligible effect on direct spending because any gifts would likely be spent soon after being received.”
WOW. This subsection (d) – along with the language contained in the cost estimate, opens the door for NAARC and N’COBRA’s African and Caribbean professional allies to collect through retained consultancies, contracts with Pan African run non-profits, and the production of “scholarly” research and reports by “credentialed” or “recognized” individuals. They plan to extract every penny of that appropriation. With no reparations happening as a result. Reparations is not a priority.
(e) Contracts. – The Commission may – (1) procure supplies, services, and property by contract in accordance with applicable laws and regulations and to the extent or in such amounts as are provided in appropriations Acts; and (2) enter into contracts with departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the Federal Government, State agencies, and private firms, institutions, and agencies, for the conduct of research or surveys, the preparation of reports, and other activities necessary for the discharge of the duties of the Commission, to the extent or in such amounts as are provided in appropriations Acts.
More of the same as spelled out in subsection (d). Just more egregiously worded and expanded. I would guess this version of “cut the check” is not so juvenile. We just could not muster up the cojones to grift so shamelessly. Kudos to The Axis…
Family – This is Super-Important:
One last but important thing about the current version of HR40. The current version deems the Federal Advisory Committee Act inapplicable. Closed Doors. This means that the commission can do anything and everything it wants without making its deliberations or directions public. No progress reporting to the affected. Everything blocked and locked. Let us call it – “Reparational Opacity.” Our reparations is None of our damned business. Family – for something as important as reparations for the whole forty plus millions of us. This is a problem.
Two And Three – The People Shaping OUR Reparations and Non-Specificity
Family. We are about to be royally hustled if we do not wake up and handle OUR business. One of the things that we want you to notice about other reparations committees, commissions, and programs worldwide is that folks outside of the specific affected communities are not running their stuff. Absolutely Not. Chinese folks ain’t running Japanese folks stuff or vice versa. They both Asians. Right?
So How – in our case, are African and Caribbean immigrant citizens, Green Carders, and visiting non-citizens having more say in how our American Freedmen reparations are being shaped and potentially expended than we do?
We need to DIRECTLY address NAARC and N’COBRA regarding this.
Why haven’t we questioned the nature of the so-called collaboration between CARICOM and The NAARC/N’COBRA Axis? We ask – because when you read the aims and study the structures of other reparations commissions – No One allows Foundational Black Americans to enter or benefit. Only the leaders of NAARC and N’COBRA want to (supposedly) feed the entire African Diaspora using reparations that should rightly go exclusively to American Freedmen. NAARC and N’COBRA try their best to partition American Freedmen from any useful information regarding their own reparations. An injustice on top of an injustice.
This is why Counselor Taifa is so irritated at Mullen and Darity. Because they provide proper information. That, in addition to clarifying bad information and correcting misinformation. They fortunately (for us) go against their program.
They don’t want anyone outside of The NAARC/N’COBRA/CARICOM cabal to question or examine anything they do. Dr. Ron Daniels of NAARC carries himself as the “Absolute Monarch of Reparations.” Don’t forget to kiss the ring.
Another person to look at hard is Sir Hilary Beckles. He is the chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission. He is in the United States quite often. “Collaborating” with NAARC and N’COBRA. We don’t understand what they are “collaborating” on. Seeing that the CARICOM commission’s reparations platform absolutely closes the door to Foundational Black Americans. Whereas the platform stated by The NAARC/N’COBRA Axis is: “Anybody, everybody that is Black, citizen or non-citizen can get it here as long as you can get here – it’s OK – Just Fly In!”
This Is Crazy!!!
When collaborations happen, there is a coordination, a balancing, a relating, or some kind of duplication going on. That is not what is happening here at all. Just speculation Family: There could be a one-way reparations cash “pipeline” set-up being planned by The NAARC/N’COBRA/CARICOM cabal going from the United States – to the Caribbean, if reparations are accomplished – that’s what we think. No Proof! OK? Just what we think. We from Chicago. Who knows what Dr. Ron Daniels plans are? Slick people do all kinds of stuff. You Know?
A Pan Caribbean organization collaborating with a Pan African organization. OK? To talk about what? Curiously – Sir Hilary Beckles was present at the HR40 United States House Hearings held on June 19, 2019. (Domestic issue!) Sir Hilary Beckles and his visiting non-citizen associates were intrusively taking up seats that should have went to American Freedmen descendants. You Know?
Watch Sir Hilary Beckles!!!
Watch Lionel Jean Baptiste!!!
Watch Kamm Howard!!!
Now what is going on here? Let’s see the platforms:
NAARC – N’COBRA Platform: “We strongly affirm the right of all people of African descent in the U.S. to receive reparations, irrespective of when they arrived here or their country of origin.”
CARICOM Platform: “The CARICOM Reparations Commission is a regional body created to Establish the moral, ethical, and legal case for the payment of Reparations by the Governments of all the former colonial powers and the relevant institutions of those countries, to the nations and people of the Caribbean Community for the Crimes against Humanity of Native Genocide, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and a racialized system of chattel Slavery.”
One platform is reparationally open – the other is reparationally closed. So what is that “collaboration” accomplishing here? With CARICOM, “Pan Africanism” goes out the window when it comes to the money. Remember, that the CARICOM organization is Pan Caribbean – not Pan African. Meaning – never for us. Is this a set up? With American Freedmen the ones being “got over” on? Family, this is the question that needs to be asked – pressed, to the right people repeatedly and consistently until the right answer is given. Or the wrong answer is extracted. But we have to ask. Don’t forget to press Kamm Howard of N’COBRA on this question as well. If you don’t know him, he’s easy to spot – he uses the word “international” a lot.
Remember Family – no American Freedmen are on the commissions of CARICOM or any other reparations entities representing the justice claims of other groups anywhere in the world. None. And Family, sharply remember that ALL commissioners and administrators belonging to NAARC have a hand in shaping OUR reparations policy. We repeat: “All of them.” And the individuals listed below in a properly constructed American reparations program – that are now shaping OUR program would not be eligible(!). So why and how are these foreign born – very ineligible people all the way up in our reparations business?
People like these chiselers:
- NAARC Commissioner – Adjo Amouzou (Born in Togo – Africa)
- NAARC Commissioner – Lionel Jean Baptiste (Born in Haiti – Caribbean)
- NAARC Commissioner – Yvette Modestin (Born in Panama – Central America)
- NAARC Administrator – Don Rojas (Born in Saint Vincent – Caribbean)
Not Eligible. – Whatever they do in Togo – have you EVER heard of any Black American running, shaping, deciding, or influencing anything in Togo? No? But a Togolesian can boat, fly, or swim in and shape OUR reparations?
That is Mind Boggling.
And The NAARC/N’COBRA Axis have a whole lot of folks running around with names like – Mashariki Jywanza, Subabu Shabaka, Jumoke Ifetayo, Kibibi Tyehimba, and Njere Alghanee. Are these people Americans? Because we hear drums. Do these names sound like folks you would seriously trust to shape Foundational Black American reparations policy? Would you? Where is Laquisha Thompson, Tyrone Washington, and Shaquanna Brown? We want our folks on this. OK?
We would trust “Laquisha” to craft a proper reparations program with more confidence than the insertive foreigners and “Shabaka” types of questionable provenance listed above. There were no people with non-American birthplaces or “Shabaka” type surnames facing Bull Connor’s dogs and fire hoses. Where? Folks with “Jywanza” type surnames were nowhere to be found in the middle of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Nowhere. And still looking.
They were not enslaved Here. They were not Reconstructively reneged Here. They did not absorb Jim Crow Here. Never got Redlined Here. Never denied rightful access to their GI Bill Here. Never got brutalized in a sundown town Here. Never raped by racists Here. Never suffered a community burndown Here. Never lived through a government-abetted massacre Here. Never lynched Here.
Let us clarify that push: This statement was not meant to be xenophobic or to be disparaging towards those that were not born here or lineaged from chattel slavery in the United States. But like others would want for themselves – reparations is regarding a just recompense towards a specific group that was specifically harmed. And the descendants of the specifically harmed would like to take care of their own business (a totally domestic issue) without uninvited or alien inputs. Period…
No matter what “color” they are. No matter where they came from.
And REMEMBER Family – that no serious reparations commissions or programs established worldwide, including CARICOM, have no Black people lineaged from American chattel slavery serving in any managerial, administrative, or consultative capacity in any of these foreign structures. They don’t allow us in their business.
How do we allow them in ours?
Foundational Black Americans must INSIST on the Removal of Diasporan immigrants from our reparations issue. They don’t belong IN there. That includes removing Sheila Jackson Lee (a child of Caribbean immigrants) as the main sponsor and Congressional shepherd of HR40. We Mean Removed. And Dr. Hilary Beckles, along with his CARICOM associates should be barred from visiting this country.
This is a set-up.
If an HR40 Commission does convene – without our interference, without our participation, without our critical oversight, and without our reparational vision, – you will see several Black immigrants on that panel. Deciding on your FAMILY STUFF(!). In Secret. We are Not kidding. And we are saying this with teeth and claws bared. Listen. They don’t belong there. If we stay complacent – we will be JACKED – In Secret. We’ll be DONE, open-mouthed – watching our inheritance flowing into Africa and the Caribbean through remittances and transfers.
Again – we are not kidding. This is a set-up Family.
Counselor Taifa is a part of that set-up. No number of deflective articles filled with disingenuous criticism will stop us from examining and calling this set-up out. This is our money that The NAARC/N’COBRA Axis is attempting to use to finance some crazy Wakandan fantasy that resides within the psychotic spaces of Dr. Ron Daniels mind. Let him and his associates use their own money for that. Reparations? Not to be purposed for fulfilling Pan African aspirations.
We just want our reparations In Cash – policies – protections – and set-asides with no complications. And no sharing with undeserving interlopers, predators, and parasites directly From – or lineaged From other countries.
Do you Understand?
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