I was assisted in the transcription and commentary of this article by a bottle of Chateau La Tour Carnet Haut-Medoc (Grand Cru Classe) 2018. Yes – this baby is $65.00. And worth every penny. This is a superfine Bordeaux Medoc blend. Solid and tight structure – crisp tannins, moderate acidity. Strong lead-in with notes of blackberries, plums, and elderberries. A sustain of oak, vanilla, and tobacco. Closing with leather, earth, and toasted vanilla. A clean but moderate finish.
“I get tired of others, including our Black elected representatives always pushing hard to make the descendants of American slaves the “MULES” for all other groups. Including Black immigrants. This is ridiculous. My lineage does all the work – absorbs all the pain – suffers through all the deprivation. But when it comes to some kind of justice – some kind of recompense. We are supposed to step to the back of the line and allow Caribbeans and Africans to be prioritized? Taking this long to decide on something that should not be a question in the first place is an insult. I see how Pan Africanism works – I am against Pan Africanism.”
This strong and positive piece was written by my darling Cynthia McDonald.
You Know? I am sick and tired of Pan African and Diasporan impositions and intrusions on this purely domestic issue and grievance. Unlike my lady, Ms. McDonald (the author of this article) – I do claim to be a xenophobe and nativist (she’s more “fair-minded” than I am). I also can’t get the fact out of my head that some Africans SOLD US into this racial crucible now called America. There is also that confusing “Akata” issue. You See? Right? For myself – I’d really like to see an active xenophobia and nativism growing amongst our people – especially when it comes to our reparations. This is a much more balanced and thoughtful article on the subject than I could ever write regarding Pan Africanism and reparations.
Read, learn, and think:
Would Reparations Fare Better With An International Movement?
By Cynthia McDonald
Recently Dr. Ray Winbush, a professor of Morgan State University and author of several books on reparations, was on Black Power Media being interviewed by Dr. Jared Ball, professor and author of the Myth and Propaganda of Black Buying Power. Here, Dr. Winbush stated that Reparations needs to have an international push or movement instead of a single-minded focus only on the United States. This particular statement made me reflect on his words and ponder on it possibly being something that is proper or even practical. As American reparationists continue to fight to achieve the justice claim for the Descendants of Freedmen, it would be proper to start exploring different strategies to make a 155 year old topic a reality.
Is one of those ways to productively unite with the Diaspora is to make reparations an international movement? Should Freedmen internationalize? Well – let’s see…
Lately there has been much talk about reparations for chattel slavery in many mediums. We have seen reparations talks being organized on several Zoom platforms by organizations who support such a measure. We’ve seen the subject explored on TED Talks, the DNC debate stage, and even had two hearings in June of 2019 and February 17, 2021 in the House Judiciary Subcommittee of Congress. HR40 – the bill to study reparations was first introduced in the late 1980’s.
As of this writing, this HR40 bill has 173 co-sponsors in the House and has a companion bill in the Senate. With the onset of the American Freedmen reparations movement and the highlight of extreme actions of vigilantes and police that led to the deaths of, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd – there has been a powerful outpouring from various voices that reparations can wait no longer.
Reparations for Slavery is not a new topic.
There have been discussions of reparations since before the Emancipation Proclamation. The first affirmative action for reparations was Special Field Order No. 15. This was a military order issued during the American Civil War, on January 16, 1865, by General William Tecumseh Sherman, commander of the Military Division of the Mississippi United States Army. This provided for the confiscation of 400,000 acres (1,600 km2) of land along the Atlantic coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida and the dividing of it into parcels of not more than 40 acres (0.16 km2), on which were to be settled approximately 18,000 formerly enslaved families and other Black people then living in the area.
General Sherman issued his orders four days after meeting with twenty local Black ministers and lay leaders, and with the U.S. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton in Savannah, Georgia. Brigadier General Rufus Saxton, a strong abolitionist from Massachusetts who had previously organized the recruitment of Black soldiers for the Union Army, was put in charge of implementing the orders.
After the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the order had little concrete effect. President Andrew Johnson issued a proclamation that returned the lands to southern owners who took a loyalty oath. Johnson granted amnesty to most former Confederates and allowed the rebel states to elect new governments.
These governments, which often included ex-Confederate officials, soon enacted what are called Black Codes. Measures designed to control and repress the recently freed slave population. General Saxton and his staff at the Charleston South Carolina’s Freedman’s Bureau’s office refused to carry out President Johnson’s wishes and denied all applications to have lands returned. In the end, Johnson and his allies removed General Saxton and his staff. But not before Congress was able to provide legislation to assist some families in keeping their lands.
Since the rescinding of Special Field Order 15, there were other reparations activists that emerged. Examples are Callie House and Isaiah Dickerson, who chartered the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension Association in 1898, to Queen Mother Moore who was a civil rights leader, Black Nationalist, Pan African activist, and founder of the Republic of New Afrika. Mother Moore was also the founder and president of the “Universal Association of Ethiopian Women,” as well as the founder of the “Committee for Reparations for Descendants of U.S. Slaves.” Moore actively promoted U.S. Freedmen reparations from 1950 until her death in 1997.
Other organizations have also emerged to help continue the work of achieving reparations(!?) such as “The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA),” “National African-American Reparations Commission (NAARC),” and ”The Caribbean Community (CARICOM).” The aforementioned organizations share a Pan African (a global cultural and political movement aiming at strengthening bonds of solidarity between all indigenous and Diasporic ethnic groups of African origin) ideology and objective. I can accept those goals.
But!!! Let’s look at the “international” aspect:
These organizations also coalition in some respects with one another. However, CARICOM is uniquely specific within the Pan African space concerning the community they are advocating for when it comes to reparations. There are fifteen countries that are included in the advocacy pool within CARICOM’s community. But the United States is clearly not one of them. CARICOM states on their website that they promote and support a unified Caribbean Community that is inclusive, resilient, and competitive; sharing in economic, social, and cultural prosperity.
As of late the issue of SPECIFICITY when it comes to reparations in the United States has been a source of some contention between those who garner a Pan African philosophy versus those who are considered “Freedmen First.” Starting from the emergence of the ADOS Movement, with the criteria established by Duke Professor Dr. William “Sandy” Darity and co-author of “From Here to Equality.” The specificity faction advocates his criteria. Dr. Darity’s work properly lays out whom should be the group that qualifies for reparations in the United States.
His criteria is a person who has identified as “Black” or “African-American” or “Negro” on government documents for at least twelve years before a reparations legislation has been enacted and can trace their lineage through at least one parent to United States Chattel Slavery. Simple? Fair? Proper? Right?
Apparently there are those of the Pan African sensibility that have tried to conflate the criteria to a blood quantum rule or the possibility of DNA tests. None of these claims are factual. The claims, however, seem to raise a larger argument that because those who are of an ADOS or Foundational Black American or Freedmen First sensibility, that locks out others from the African Diaspora who happen to be in the United States. Arguments such as “White Supremacy is global” or “racism affects all Black people” are often raised, sustained, and even conflated with the aforementioned statements that Dr. Darity’s criteria is xenophobic because it excludes Black people whom are not American Descendants of Chattel Slavery.
This Is Nonsense.
The facts are that every reparations program be it by legislation or lawsuit has always been specific. Some examples include:
● The Pueblo Lands Act of 1924: Congress authorized the establishment of the Pueblo Lands Board to adjudicate land title disputes, along with a payment of $1,300,000 to the Pueblo for the land they lost.
● The Shoshones: Were paid over $6 million for land illegally seized from them.
● The Indian Reorganization Act: This ordinance authorized $2 million a year in appropriations for the acquisition of land for Indians (except for the state of Oklahoma and the territory of Alaska until 1936). Congress made appropriations until 1941. In total $5.5 million was appropriated for 400,000 acres of land, and further legislation added 875,000 acres to reservations. One million acres of grazing land and one million acres intended for homesteading were returned to the tribes.
● The Navajo-Hopi Rehabilitation Act: This was passed – authorizing an appropriation of $88,570,000 over 10 years for a program benefiting the Navajo and Hopi, including soil conservation, education, business and industry development on reservation, and assistance in finding employment off-reservation.
● Civil Liberties Act of 1988: President Ronald Reagan signed a bill providing $1.2 billion ($20,000 a person) and an apology to each of the approximately 60,000 living
Japanese-Americans who had been interned during World War II. Additionally, $12,000 and an apology were given to 450 Unangans (Aleuts) for internment during WWII, and a $6.4 million trust fund was created for their communities.
● In the United States Court of Claims case Tlingit and Haida Indians of Alaska v. United States: The plaintiff tribes won a judgment of $7.5 million as just compensation for land taken by the U.S. Government between 1891 and 1925.
● The Tuskegee Experiment: A $10 million out-of-court settlement was reached between the U.S. government and Tuskegee victims, Black men who had been unwitting subjects of an evil and heinous study of untreated syphilis, and whom did not receive available treatments.
All of these claims have in common the naming of a specific group for a specific injury. There has been no precedent made in the United States (or elsewhere) where reparations was non-specifically paid to a blanketed group of people. I as a descendant of American Freedmen cannot stake claim to the Civil Liberties Act that paid Japanese Internment Camp victims from WWII. I would not qualify to receive redress from the Navajo-Hopi Rehabilitation Act, since I am not of that lineage, nor a member of those tribes. Makes sense, does it not? The injured party from a specific injury is the one who should receive the appropriate redress and repair.
So let us revisit Dr. Winbush’s strong statement of reparations needing to be an international movement. The other claim that is often made by Pan Africans is that being “specific” concerning U.S. reparations immediately means that advocacy from and to the Diaspora is immediately cut off. I personally push back on this claim, because Freedmen have always advocated for justice for the Diaspora.
American Freedmen leaders like W.E.B DuBois advocated against exclusionary tactics by the United States Government to keep Africans and African Diasporans out of the country. Also it has to be mentioned how American Freedmen seriously advocated to end Apartheid in South Africa, calling for American Companies to divest from doing business in that country. That and other demonstrations in the United States and in South Africa led to the collapse of the Apartheid system.
Specificity does not have to be an enemy to international advocacy.
In South Africa, The South African government was to pay reparations to thousands of people identified as victims of Apartheid by the country’s truth and reconciliation commission. At the time, South African President Thabo Mbeki has said that his government will make a payment of 30,000 South African Rand ($3,890) each to more than 19,000 people identified by the commission as victims of gross human rights violations. Should I be a part of that claim? Or not?
Those of us in the United States support and applaud that effort. But I would not expect to receive any of that payment, because even though I am Black – I was not a victim of apartheid. That does not mean as a member of the Diaspora that I can’t support South Africa to do right by its citizens that were harmed by the Apartheid policy. The same can be said for the Descendants of American Chattel Slavery.
Although all Black people living in the United States would not and should not qualify for reparations if not a descendant of United States Chattel Slavery, the international community (within and without the United States) can and should enable and supply support for the Freedmen’s descendants to get the full measure of their justice claim. This – only the right and proper Diasporan thing to do.
I agree with Dr. Winbush’s statement that reparations can and should be an international movement. It is quite apparent that members of the African Diaspora have been harmed by white supremacy on many levels and deserve justice from oppressive government policies all over the world. Even though this is the case, redress and repair is going to look different based on whom and where the injury exacted. I cannot expect reparations to look the same in Brazil as it would in Jamaica. Although slavery was practiced in both countries, the governments that enacted those institutions are different. Brazil’s claim would be from Portugal and Jamaica’s would come from Great Britain. We can and should implore all from the Diaspora to support one another in our justice claims, but keep in mind that our claims are specific to the countries we are in. Reparations can be supported globally but should without exception be an issue respectfully handled domestically.
See? No venom. Just reason, logic, data, and good sense.
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