I was assisted in writing this post by a rich bottle of Masseria Li Veli ‘Askos’ Susumaniello – Salento 2020. A Southern Italy red blend. Opulent. Bold. Earthy. Moderately dry. Soft acidity. Medium tannins. Fluid structure. Leading in with smoke and sweet raisins. Sustaining hard with plums, blackberries, and black cherries. Ending with complex cocoa, wood, and tobacco notes. Long – dry finish.
“The ten million Negroes of America form a group that is more essentially proletarian than any other American group. In the first place, the ancestors of this group were brought here with the very definite understanding that they were to be ruthlessly exploited. And they were not allowed any choice in the matter. Since they were brought here as chattels their social status was fixed by that fact. In every case that we know of where a group has lived by exploiting another group, it has despised that group which it has put under subjection. And the degree of contempt has always been in direct proportion to the degree of exploitation.
Inasmuch then, as the Negro was at one period the most thoroughly exploited of the American proletariat, he was the most thoroughly despised. That group which exploited and despised him, being the most powerful section of the ruling class, was able to diffuse its own necessary contempt the Negro first among the other sections of the ruling class, and afterwards among all the other classes of Americans. For the ruling class has always determined what the social ideals and moral ideas of society should be; and this explains how race prejudice was disseminated until all Americans are supposed to be saturated with it.
Race prejudice, then, is the fruit of economic subjection and a fixed inferior economic status. It is the reflex of a social caste system. That caste system in America today is what we roughly refer to as the Race Problem, and it is thus seen that the Negro problem is essentially an economic problem with its roots in slavery past and present…”
Excerpt from: “The Negro And The Nation” by Hubert H. Harrison (1917)
As a people for over four hundred years we have functioned in the shadow of a dark and unpredictable hurricane of death. I don’t think it has to stay that way. Those forceful winds of domination, deprivation, and despair will not ever cease until we march squarely towards the source of the gale – and vanquish it through unity, understanding, and determination. No Choice. This we must do Family.
Conversation: At a downtown bar with an old friend sipping on Bulleit Bourbon on the rocks and chopping it up on my three favorite subjects. Reparations, politics, and stereo components. We’d go deep on one thing for awhile, then switch it up to the next thing. Back and forth. “Hey Bartender – we need another hit!!!” When we slid back into reparations, my dude asks a serious question: “I want reparations too Man – but where we are, in this country, these white folks. I don’t know. Man you sure you ain’t wasting your time on this? ‘Cause I don’t see it happening…”
A typical Chicago dialogue.
I get those kinds of questions and sentiments quite a bit from my Baby Boomer contemporaries. Wait a minute – I get this from Millennials and Generation Xers too. Damn. Nobody Believes! Will Generation Z provide a renaissance? I do facts – not hope. But getting back to the question. I’m never sure how to respond to that question. I look at fighting for the manifestation of group interests as something that should be natural for any member of any group. Especially when that interest involves something as fundamental as bodily and economic survival. Ya Think?
He might as well have asked me if playing with my grandchildren is a waste of time. Or – if listening to Jazz is a waste of time. I’m sure I could survive if I were somehow, for some good reason circumscribed from doing either. I’m not making any money when I do those things, but doing those things are definitely worth it. Right? An inability to predict outcomes is no excuse for inaction. Your child. Yeah – YOUR child, may grow up to be a mogul or a murderer. An absolute inability to know how your child will eventually turn out is no excuse for you not to do your absolute best as a parent. The same thing applies to me as an activist member of an oppressed and deprived group. The thing that definitely applies to the rest of us.
Does it not? You tell me…
I get really tired sometimes dealing with reparations. (Oops!) When my children were still growing up, I used to get tired of dealing with their asses too. But that didn’t stop me from parenting. My love for my children kept me going to keep parenting even when I didn’t want to. And fortunately – both of them turned out just fine. I could be wasting my time with this reparations issue. Could Be(?). None of us in this movement knows how our efforts will turn out. That’s irrelevant.
The same reasoning could be applied to those that want to start businesses. As you know, most businesses fail. But that is not an excuse to not at least try. Most of the people reading this post are probably working at a business that somebody took a risk to start and then eventually developed to success. Was that not worth it? The reparations movement is about a high-quality goal that is absolutely worth the time and attempt to accomplish. OK? Those American Freedmen that are actively in the trenches to get this done are the best examples of what it means to be a Freedman.
They are the vanguard of the corrective forces that will get us to full repair.
I still never satisfactorily answered my friend’s question. OK. Fine. But whenever I am presented with questions such as those – I will ask myself three concentrated questions. Questions that cause me to intelligently pause and stay strong in this correct purpose. Questions that force me to keep moving forward and challenging my political and social environment. And those questions are constant, running as if on a continuous tape loop. Through every dawn and sunset – I answer myself as well. I heard that you are not supposed to answer yourself. Self-responding could be an indicator for needing mental therapy of some kind. I’m supposed to be crazy anyway. Right? Below are the questions and the answers I apply to myself:
IS IT JUST?
Slavery + Reconstruction + Jim Crow + Redlining + Constitution = Reparations.
The need for justice is in my face every second of every day.
The entirety of American history attests to the justice of this reparations demand. To reiterate each word that attaches to every atrocity and deprivatory policy would be redundant to my audience. You all know very well what they are. Correct? What amplifies the justice of this demand is the preponderance of the continuousness of the wrongs. Uniquely aimed at us. By this government. Redlining never stopped. It’s just been modified and streamlined. Our deep and long-suffering losses were never addressed nor recompensed. Reparations and all accompanying Freedmen-centric legislation is what will get us to full American. This is our responsibility to make to happen – established in the here, the now, and the continuous future.
And no matter what you do – to attempt to escape that responsibility is impossible. The attempt can come in the distractive forms of indifference, nigger contrarianism, willful ignorance, Pan Africanism, philosophical excuse-ism, arrogance, blunts, the fucking NBA, various hedonisms, et cetera. As an American you have the freedom to do whatever the fuck you want to do. Or whatever you fucking don’t want to do. But your infantile wants really don’t matter Man. Fuck your wants. For our people and your children – the responsibility remains. For you to accept the challenge.
That last paragraph? That’s me talking to me.
IS IT WORTHY?
“Closing the wealth gap?” Is that worthy? Making our foundational-ness to this country mean what it is supposed to mean. Is that worthy? Securing the prosperity of our children and grandchildren. Creating a historic legacy for oneself. Is that worthy? Being an activist for this issue is so correct – so noble that I don’t stress about when, or how, or if reparations will happen. Is that worthy? Come On!!! How is “worthiness” even a question when it comes to this? This is for my people and your children. Even though I am a true Atheist – at this age (67) I feel especially close to my extended interpretation of this prophetic Martin Luther King Jr. quote:
“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I am not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we as a people will get to the promised land…”
This was the most beautiful and encompassing rendering of immovable purpose and mission uttered during my lifetime. Impenetrable and unimpeachable. This.
At the same time – I am not a believer in God. So, every time I read this. As the streamed disaggregation of each word-meaning this paragraph comprises travels through my mind space – there happens a metaphysical (if I can use that word) expansion. A re-application of what he means within my own mind-context.
“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead.” Correct. We don’t know what will happen now. That is the Reparationist life. That will always be the Reparationist life. And I love every second of it. “Difficult days?” We can’t afford weakness. What is the game without challenges? How does one grow without worthy opponents? The “worthiness” of this goal in itself is enough of a reason to continue. One’s racial self-esteem is a factor here as well.
“But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop…….” The vision of a fully accomplished and implemented reparations program unfolded within me five years ago. Reparations is all that occupies my consciousness from 12:00 AM to 11:59 PM. The vision is too right to be left behind. Too beautiful to stop the work. Our children. Our grandchildren. Your legacy. The history books.
“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I am not concerned about that now.” As of this writing I am sixty seven years old and over. So I am definitely not concerned about any “longevity.” I am only concerned with doing as much as I can for this mission as far as my time and health allow.
“I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land…” Understand. I won’t do any other’s will but my own. My will alone is sufficient. But I do in an expanded sense understand what he means globally. “The Promised Land” in my mind concretely translates into “The Noble Accomplishment.” And I’ve seen through my own eyes “the accomplishment” through communing with my fellow Reparationist activists. Every face to face encounter with them IS ascending that great mountain.
To the American Freedmen: I am grateful you have allowed me to climb up.
“I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we as a people will get to the promised land…” Above me. The crescent moon has fixed itself bright as a blue dominator of a cloudless night. Yes: “I may not get there with you.” A statement so stark and individually inevitable – yet so evanescently contextual. And for me personally – I may not get there with you. So What. It is the “we as a people” getting to where we need to be that is my driver. “We as a people?” Each of us, working on the “promise” that we have established for ourselves as a noble goal. Each one of us, no matter what – the Mission Continues. Understand Family. That even though I personally am not doing this for nothing, whether or not I personally see anything is not important. It really is not important Family – nor should it be. This work must carry on to its necessary and recompensitive end.
No matter “who” is with us – or not.
IS IT CONSTITUTIONAL?
The first three words of the Constitution: “We the People” does solidly affirm that the government of the United States exists to serve its citizens. Point Blank.
The American Freedmen are not only the actual co-owners of this country, along with Foundational White Americans (Europeans that came and settled on this land from between 1619 to 1865 and their white descendants – white immigrants that came after 1865 don’t count. They don’t.). But we are also the sole owners of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. Know. We actually do own the original meanings of all Civil Rights Acts: 1866, 1871, 1875, 1957, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1990, and 1991. They have as of late been passed out to others. We must re-legislate them again back into our exclusive favor. To pointedly restore to ours alone, the all-important Civil Rights Act of 1866. We have a lot to reclaim and repossess Family.
We also have a lot to kick-start into operationality.
Like petitioning the government for a redress of grievances. So! Let us see Family: Among The Civil War Amendments, we have The Thirteenth Amendment of 1865 that abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, and authorized Congress to enforce abolition. The Fourteenth Amendment of 1868 established citizenship to the Freedmen and to all persons “subject to United States jurisdiction.” It prohibits states from violating a citizen’s privileges and immunities. This Amendment also provides due process and a full guarantee of equal protection of the laws. The Fifteenth Amendment of 1870 prohibits the use of race, color, or previous condition of servitude in determining which citizens may vote. Nothing reparational there.
Just a creation and securing of special constitutional rights.
So we have to run right back to The First Amendment, where the “right to petition” is enumerated. And this specifically prohibits Congress from abridging “the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and the unrestricted right of the people to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That includes a demand for reparations. Now we are getting somewhere. Starting at the beginning is usually a good idea. Since the Constitution was written, the Congressional Research Service (a public policy research institute of the United States Congress – working directly and primarily for members of Congress and their committees and staff) wrote this:
“… the right of petition has expanded. It is no longer confined to demands for ‘a redress of grievances,’ in any accurate meaning of these words, but comprehends demands for an exercise by the Government of its powers in furtherance of the interest and prosperity of the petitioners and of their views on politically contentious matters. The right extends to the ‘approach of citizens or groups of them to administrative agencies (which are both creatures of the legislature, and arms of the executive) and to courts, the third branch of Government. Certainly the right to petition extends [and applies] to all departments of the Government. The right of access to the courts is indeed but one aspect of the right of petition.”
Quite an excerpt. Those are the words generated by the Government. And this line: “… but comprehends demands for an exercise by the Government of its powers in furtherance of the interest and prosperity of the petitioners and of their views on politically contentious matters.” Furthering interest and prosperity sounds exactly like what we are trying to get the Government to “comprehend.” Doesn’t it? I think we would all agree that reparations is a “politically contentious matter.” Correct? So. This movement is on the right track. Since all the constitutional, legislative, and legal infrastructure has already been laid, that assures me that I am not “wasting my time.” To myself, all three questions have been comprehensively answered.
The only thing that I need to do is continue the work…
Just and Constitutional? OK. Remember Family, this entire country is tricky. Nothing played in this motherfucker is “fair.” The terms “justice” and “fairness” have a tendency to be used interchangeably. Understand. “Fairness” is a bitch concept. “Justice,” when used within the context of a recompensive claim only gives you a legitimate ticket to enter the game. Yes. Just to ENTER the game. Entry in itself is no guarantee of the desired outcome(s). But the deal is to WIN. That’s it motherfucker. The game? Whatever it takes politically. Not a place to be “sweet” and “fair.” The Challenge? MMA is the appropriate analogy here.
Only merciless pressure and ass-kicking is respected in this political space.
This latter-day Reparations movement is the latest entry on the great American political chessboard that has important global implications. Reparations being accomplished in America will be the hot epicenter of a worldwide economic shift. Our game heads need to be fully on. All synapses need to be firing heavy. We have to politically ramp-up fast and hard. I plan on seeing this shit through.
It’s about to get real. Where the fuck are You?
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