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The politics of reparations–Part 3


Practical Politics

By David L. Horne, Ph.D | Oped contributor

Beginning pieces of the plan (necessary elements):

A.  External reparations

There should be governmental acknowledgement, apology, atonement, and compensation for its participation in the seizure and misuse of valuable property–labor property–taken from Black Americans who worked as slaves between 1677-1865 in this country, using that ill-gotten property to unjustly enrich this country and help it become the great nation it is today, all without fairly compensating those African-Americans or their descendants for the deliberate loss of said labor property.

(B) There should be compensation (demonstrating the atonement) for the more than 200-year set of government-supported activities called Jim Crowism and Black segregation (including the lynching, murdering and raping of Black people, the illegal convict leasing system, the razing of black townships, and the systemic expropriation of land from Black citizens, inclouding, but not limited to, redlining) all of which relegated African-Americans to the bottom rungs of society.

© Compensation (demonstrating atonement) at fair market value for continuing government-supported anti-black socio-political-economic activities and their consequences that have deprived African-Ameridans of respect and their rightful honored place in USA society.

B. Internal reparations

(NOTE: Internal Reparations does not absolve, excuse or dilute the responsibility of the various U.S. governmental components nor American corporations viz-a-viz Black Americans and what is owed us. However, our redemption is both external and internal and will not occur without our taking responsibility for part of our own healing.)

(D) Black assessment and identification of those negative and debilitating aspects of our communities that we can mobilize and organize our efforts to repair, reform and correct for our own benefit. (For example, for money and fame, we have helped to continue the negativity within which we still struggle by continuing to peddle the false notion that we can revamp “nigger” into something positive. It is and will continue to be the antithesis of the Black positivity we claim and which we deserve and we should bury the term, with or without a grave marker.

(E) The formulation of action plans–both short-term and long-term–to address the problems and negative aspects assessed and identified, and the successful implementation of those plans in Black communities. Here, for example, is the place for an operational plan for a Black economic boycott to demonstrate just how valuable the Black community is to the well-being of the U.S. economy.

This operational definition, as a base for reparations planning, is a complement to the current conceptual definitions of reparations regularly referred to in the Reparations Movement. Conceptual definitions, while very important for envisioning the “big picture” of a process, are essentially generalized notions or ideas about an issue, thing or activity. It is rare for conceptual definitions to be adequate or very useful when it’s time for real work.

The most accepted concept of reparations in the Movement, for example, is that it is equivalent to repairing the Black community. Whether it is ‘repairing a wrong or an injury, or repairing the community back to wholeness,’ the idea of repair presupposes an original condition of non-injury, non- wrong, non-damaged when we were whole and healthy, or when we existed in efficient, harmonious operation or normal relations. But exactly when was that in the African-American experience?

Was it back in various West African villages that we are still trying to find our DNA connections to? Was it during the Maafa/Transatlantic Slave Trade? Was it during the heyday of several successful Black towns in America before their Rosewood and Greenwood-like devastation by enraged white citizens and surrounding governments? Was it during the bullwhip days of chattel slavery in America? During Jim Crow days after the Civil War? During the era of Emmitt Till and the Civil Rights Movement? We cannot define or find such a time.

This, then, is the beginning of the Grand Plan for Reparations in the U.S.A.

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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