The Destination For Information Regarding Reparations!
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SOME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
CONCERNING REPARATIONS FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS
1. Q. What does Reparations for African Americans really mean?
A. It means getting the American government (federal, state, county and city) which supported the institution of slavery, lynching, institutional racism and other such things, to admit that it did a great injury to black people in this country, that that injury still continues, that the government apologizes for that injury, and that the government is willing to demonstrate its good faith in that apology by compensating African Americans in some relevant form determined by African Americans.
2. Q. Is Reparations only about Black folk getting money from White folk?
A. No. The forms that Reparations will take will be decided by Black people talking together about that issue. It may be a 50-year trust fund accessible to any African American who wants to start a business. It may be a guaranteed scholarship to and through college for every African American high school graduate. It may be any of those and any of various other forms that we can generally agree on. Yes, some individual money will probably be involved but that will be only a small part of a much larger equation. Reparations will come from the American government, and private corporations that profited from slavery and the domestic slave trade, not individual White people.
3. Q. Won’t this Reparations issue just divide America into racial camps by opening up old wounds?
A. No, it won’t. America is already divided into racial antagonism that simply won’t die. Why? In great part, it is because those “old wounds” never healed. America essentially does not respect Black Americans. Slavery in America left a legacy of White privilege and entitlement, and Black deficiency and disrespect. It will take Reparations to seriously begin the process of racial Healing and interracial Respect in this country.
4. Q. Isn’t Welfare a kind of Reparations for African Americans?
A. No. Welfare comes from the taxes all Americans pay. Most of the people on Welfare in America are White, not Black, and the Welfare System was designed to be that way. Welfare has nothing to do with Reparations.
5. Q. Can we really win this?
A. Yes, we can and we will. We will win with mother wit, a lot of research and hard work, and a great deal of strategizing and persistence. We cannot give up. We owe it to our ancestors. We owe it to our history and to ourselves. It is time. It is right. It is inevitable. Our best and brightest minds are on this as we speak, and we will not be denied. Come on, people! Get on the train!! All Abooard the Reparations Express !! They owe us!!!!
6. Q. Is there a prominent role for the Black Church?
A. Absolutely. The Black Church has been part and parcel of every serious movement for our racial betterment in our history in America. The Reparations Movement is a culmination of much of what our ancestors fought and died for. The Black Church must be involved in the leadership and energy of this mighty movement to restore the dignity of being Black in America, and to re-capture the respect that is due to Black folk in this country and in the world. Those in congregations should urge your particular church to get involved right now!!
7. Q. What was the role of Arabs Spaniards and Africans in the enslavement of Black people around the world?
A. There has been an Arab slave trade from East Africa and from West Africa northwards since at least 200 a.d. In fact, there was an Arab enslavement and trade of Africans well before and all through the time of Muhammad’s founding and establishment of Islam, and both of these activities were perpetuated after Muhammad by many of those who professed to be Muslims. From modern reports out of the African countries of Sudan, Mauritania and Morocco, vestiges of that Arab slave trade still exist in the year 2003.
Will there be a reparations reckoning with the Arabs over this issue? Yes, but not now. That issue is on the reparations agenda, but it is way down on the list.
The Portuguese and the Spanish were the first two European nations “legally” approved by the Catholic Church to capture, transport and trade Africans. Both the Spanish and the Portuguese not only took African captives to parts of Europe for sale and exhibition, the two countries brought hundreds of thousands, even millions, of African slaves into South America, the Caribbean and North America.
Thus, there were African slaves in Mexico, Columbia, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica, Bermuda, Barbados, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Puerto Rico, etc., as a direct result of Portuguese and Spanish slave trading. Some African tribal groups participated heavily in raiding, capturing and selling other Africans; some African groups initially participated in this practice, then stopped and became opponents of the process; and some African tribal groups ferociously fought the process from the outset and continued to resist it no matter what. Examples of the first group include the Kanem-Bornu “kingdom” in West Central Africa; examples of the second group include the Ashanti and portions of the Congolese; and examples of the third include segments of the Mende-Malinke, the Mossi,and the Coromantians. Read From Chains to Bonds, Doudou Diene,ed., UNESCO, 2001, for more information on this African participation and resistance to the slave trade.
8. Q. Is there a deadline period for achieving reparations?
A. No, there is no deadline period for achieving reparations, either in America or elsewhere in the world. We will just keep at it until the task is accomplished, no matter how long it takes. Patience must be practiced, since strategic planning and implementation take time. Also, the reparations struggle is too deep, too wide, and too fundamentally at the core of what the U.S. really is about for there to be a fixed date set. That being said, there are various hoped- for target dates–2007-8, 2010, 2020–that several activists have mentioned, but those are just that, mobile target dates.
9. Q. How does the Reparations Movement connect to the effort to save our Black colleges and Black hospitals from closing/dis-accreditation?
A. There is both an Internal Reparations Movement and an External Reparations Movement going on simultaneously. For the former, there are community strengthening, community control, and community institution building and consolidation activities that must occur. While we cannot allow ourselves to get misdirected to the point of dealing only with the everyday problems of racism, discrimination and Black disrespect, we also cannot ignore immediate and debilitating problems ongoing in our communities. Rescuing the Black colleges that are threatened with closure is one of those problems, and so is stopping the closure and disqualification of hospitals and trauma centers in the Black community. There are many other immediacies like these wherever we live. Those who have the expertise, contacts and skills should deal with those situations, including making sure there are future plans drawn up to stop this constant cycle of fiscal crisis and even fiscal mismanagement and/or constant understaffing and underfunding.. But the rest of us must keep working on the External Reparations struggle. Remember: all of our major problems as a people–the HIV-AIDS epidemic, the Black prison overpopulation, persistent school failure, etc.— are symptoms of the larger issue of persistent, pernicious Black disrespect and the relentless promotion in the U.S. of the negative value of being Black. If we spend all of our time dealing with all of the brush fires, we’ll never attack and overwhelm the core forest fire from which they all emanate.
Again, good strategic planning requires a proper and timely allocation of our talents and resources to both the immediate and the long-term issues, i.e., the small picture and the big picture.