ABOUT REPARATIONS

 

The enslavement of Black people was sanctioned by the U.S. Constitution from 1789 to 1865. Jim Crow Laws institutionalized economic, educational, and social disadvantages for Black Americans. Anti-Black Violence has been too widespread and unacknowledged to be accurately calculated -- The Equal Justice Initiative reports that there were  6,500 lynchings between 1865 and 1950.

In recent years, Black Americans have continued to face racism and violence in everyday life and the absence of justice has only magnified the tragedies. This year, the murders of Breonna Taylor & George Floyd by police officers have ignited protests in more than 1,500 cities + towns in all 50 American states.

Simply defined, reparations are an effort to make “amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged.” Simply understood, reparations are appropriated and distorted for political purposes. The Fund seeks to deepen the conversation about reparations and directly support Black people who are working to strengthen Black communities. The Fund seeks to help make the dream of US House Representative John Conyers (1929 - 2019) a reality -- Rep. Conyers and other supporters sponsored H.R. 40 - the Commission to Study & Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act - in every Legislative session from 1989 to 2017. The bill has not become law, yet.

We know that it would be nearly impossible to make direct financial reparations to every Black American  whose ancestors were slaves in this country. We also know that there is no dollar figure that could ever  accurately represent the value and meaning of the tremendous contributions that Black people have made to this country for more than 400 years. Therefore, the Radical Equity Fund for Reparations has concentrated its efforts on funding Black people and organizations in America who are doing local, community-based work to support the well-being and strength of Black communities.

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“An America that asks what it owes its most vulnerable citizens is improved and humane. An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future. More important than any single check cut to any African American, the payment of reparations would represent America’s maturation out of the childhood myth of its innocence into a wisdom worthy of its founders.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       -- Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2014

“By our unpaid labor and suffering, we have earned the right to the soil, many times over and over, and now we are determined to have it.” 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        -- anonymous, 1861

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FURTHER READINGS

◦ What is Owed by Nikole Hannah-Jones

◦ Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Full Opening Statement on Reparations at House Hearing (video: Juneteenth 2019)

◦ The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates

◦ The Case for Reparations by David Brooks

◦ African American Inequality in the United States from Harvard Business School

◦ Why we need reparations for Black Americans by Rashawn Ray + Andre Perry, Brookings Institute

◦ How Reparations for Slavery Became a 2020 Campaign Issue by Emma Goldberg

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