Reparations: A Glaring Double Standard
A glaring double standard exists in America when it comes to the humanity of Black American descendants of slavery compared to new arrival migrants, those suffering abroad and wealthy white communities.
And as the UHA Tenth Biennial Conference: “Reparations & the Right to the City” descends on perhaps one of the worse places in America for Black folks to survive, it would be remiss if we didn’t highlight a few of these glaring double standards.
As a descendant of American slavery, I am heartbroken and devastated to watch as our elected officials, particularly Black elected officials representing our vanishing communities, continue to turn a blind eye and normalize our daily and generational suffering.
Black America in Pittsburgh and throughout the United States is in a humanitarian crisis, and the inaction and silence by leadership for basic human rights, humanity, and reparations is deafening.
To witness the blatant injustice, intentional devaluation of our communities, and ongoing oppression that is happening right now and to see our elected officials fully supporting it … it’s unconscionable.
And like Covid before, it sheds light a on glaring double standards that’s been in play for generations now.
Black American descendants of slavery who are left to rot in neglected, devalued, underfunded, impoverished, and left behind communities across America, dream of the day when leadership representing their communities, could see the same Humanity in them as they do in migrants, Palestinians, Ukrainians, Israelis, and the white community.
But of course, that would go against the natural order of things, and after being let in from out of the bitter, subzero cold, no one wants to bite the hand that feeds them or lose critical votes.
Many Black residents barely surviving in the communities that are ignored, believe that such blatant inaction and silence makes many in Black leadership roles and the United States government complicit in the ongoing suffering and intentional oppression of Black American descendants of slavery.
We have crime that’s out of control. We have men, woman and children being killed every night across America. We still have triple the unemployment rate of whites.
We are deprived of access to wealth and land that was stolen from us. We continue to be executed by law enforcement over taillights and traffic stops.
We have all these things and more that should be prioritized and immediately addressed but aren’t.
Yet, with every ounce of strength and breath they can muster, leadership will rush to condemn the killing of civilians abroad but then there is no equal condemnation of the systematic genocide taking place towards Black American descendants of slavery here at home in America.
We have been promised by leadership for decades that help is on the way in the form of federal, state and county funding, followed up by good paying union jobs.
But then we are told in the very same breath that massive deficits, funding of wars, foreign nation building, and political resistance has placed an immense strain on resources and infrastructure, so therefore you’re going to have to wait a little longer at the very end of the back of the line.
But suddenly, with the influx of refugees and illegal migrants seeking asylum, the government has resources readily available to fully support another marginalized population when Black American descendants of slavery been advocating for those same resources for generations.
The United States is a contradiction. Its founding principles embrace the ideals of freedom and equality, but it is a nation built on the systematic exclusion and suppression of Black folks and their communities.
From the very start, most of this country’s laws and public policies, which should serve as the scaffolding that guides progress for all, were instead designed explicitly to prevent Black human beings in America from ever fully participating.
In do so, Black human beings were designated by the United States government as nothing more than subhuman, chattel property to be brought and sold on the open market.
Even more sinister, these laws and policies are not some relics of antebellum or Jim Crow past but rather remain part of the fabric of American policymaking, oppression, and tools for Black life erasure to this very day.
This is one of the reasons why we must stay politically engaged and steadfast in our demands for national reparations for the descendants of American chattel slavery.
Black voters have been conditioned to accept the absolute least from Black elected officials. And as we have come to learn over the past several decades, having Black elected officials does not guarantee that the rights, humanity, and interests of the Black community will be represented tangibly or effectively in government.
for those who are career minded with little interest in what happens to the community, local politics is basically a way to get started in politics.
And unfortunately, people who are elected to higher office tend not to introduce legislate or pass policies that disadvantaged groups desperately need.
And of course, for personal aspirations, votes, and political survival they’re more responsive to what wealthier residents, institutions and industries in the community want.
As a result, in more than half of the communities across America where Black Americans are a majority population, they still get worse representation and far less funding than whites.
These are alarming and glaring double standards, and one thing is certain, the masters’ tools will never dismantle the master’s house. A new Black political movement in America must be initiated ASAP.
In many cases, Black leaderships’ response to what been taking place to their Black constituents across America for centuries is disconnected and shameful.
Therefore, the solutions to our liberation and ineffective leadership must come from within.
We must collectively accept responsibility for what is happening in our community and become more politically engaged, committed to self-representation, and holding current leaders accountable.
Locally, more authentic Black voices, requests and ideals are needed for all reparation initiatives taking place in the region. More public deliberative forms must take place.
Today, in many spaces across America, Black American descendants of slavery have been relegated to a place where Black folks are only allowed to talk about what white people agree with.
If there’s no agreement among white folks, then Black folks can’t talk about it, propose it, legislate for it, or fight for it.
If there’s no agreement about reparations, leave your history, lineage and the atrocities committed against your ancestors at the door. They are not relevant.
It doesn’t matter that Black folks were enslaved. It doesn’t matter that Black folks make up over 55% of the homeless. It doesn’t matter that Black folks were lynched. It doesn’t matter that Black folks have been intentionally relegated as a permanent underclass in America.
And what we’re not going to talk about is what we should be talking about, and that Is why don’t white people agree that all crimes against humanity is wrong?
Why can’t white Americans admit that they’re living off of stolen wealth? Why are white folks not ok with Justice for Black folks?
What part of them is so immoral or souless that justice for Black folks can’t be a part of the national conversation?
What makes white folks say that the push for reparations, justice and equality for Black folks is off the table because they don’t agree with it?
Why are there so many glaring double standards when it comes to the dire humanitarian crisis facing Black American descendants of slavery in America compared to the crisis of others?
Are we being told that it is wrong to kill someone who is worshiping, but it’s okay to kill them during a traffic stop.
Those are the uncomfortable questions that must be asked and immediatelyaddressed, without Prejudice.
Locally, for nearly 100 years now in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, all Democractic elected officials have been doing is using identity politics, empty words and promises to make Black folks feel elevated.
And it’s all been an illusion and an attempt to continue to hoodwink the public.
Those elected officials representing neglected Black communities, pretending to champion class over race to mask the fact that they’re forbidden to speak up about Black injustice or go against those who allow them to perpetrate the fraud and false representation, should no longer be accepted and voted out at all levels government.
We need fresh leadership representation that will be reminding their colleges, opposition and the world every single day, at all levels of government that Article 7 of the Rome Statute lists four elements necessary for the commission of crimes against Humanity, all which have been committed by the United States Government.
First, these crimes are committed against a civilian population. Second, the crimes range from murder, rape, enslavement, imprisonment, torture, to acts of a similar character causing great physical and mental suffering.
Third, the crimes are widespread and systematic. And fourth, there is knowledge of the crimes. The perpetrators of crimes against humanity may be state officials, private groups, or individuals.
The fact that Black American descendants of slavery are a persecuted community whose humanity has been under widespread and systematic attack for centuries, should be enough reason to proceed with reparations, unequivocally.
But of course, the glaring double standards will no doubt rear their heads to proclaim that there is no justification for such a restorative justice claim request.
One thing is certain, without the revival of a collective Black political, liberation and power movement here in America, the future existence of Black American descendants of slaveryin America is bleak, to say the least.