Reparations must now become front and center in the fight for Black American liberation and economic justice. And after the coming midterms, Black leadership must be encouraged to elevated reparations to the top of any political conversations concerning poverty, crime, housing, judicial, education, social and economic Justice for Black American descendants of slavery.
Everything builds on what came before. And what has come before in America is that all the wealth, politics, and quality of life in America were intentionally arranged by a specific hierarchy and at the bottom of that hierarchy are Black American descendants of slaves. Not only have they always been tethered to the bottom, but it was done so intentionally.
Though out the history of American hierarchy and its political structure there are familiar patterns of white people of privilege claiming to liberate, rescue, or uplift underprivileged Black people.
In the case of Braddock, as it is throughout most of the current political structure in America, the white savior Industrial Complex was never about racial justice or encouraging the empowerment of the community’s majority Black residents.
Instead it was about validating privilege, creating a false narrative that justifies why it’s necessary for Black Americans to have white oversite and cloaking the savior as the ultimate “do-gooder”. Thus, allowing the savior to achieve their own personal ambitions under the disguise of an everyday, working-class, average citizen with the Black community’s best interest at heart.
People of privilege can naturally avoid systemic racism, injustice, and corruption all for individual, self-enriching acts of professed charity therefore helping to perpetuate and reinforce the entrenched systemic problems facing majority Black communities like Braddock and those residents who have been suffering in them for decades.
No matter how good intentioned they may claim to be, this strips Black Americans of their means, voice, authentic narrative, and funding opportunities, reducing them to submissive beneficiaries of white benevolence.
In most cases, such as in Braddock, the recipients are never consulted nor were their most pressing needs, concerns or quality of life ever taken into consideration when economic funding was being flooded into the community for individual, one man show “pet projects”, which is evident to this very day.
And while the original Black American story of survival is one of the greatest human survival stories ever known to mankind, moving forward, it will be nearly impossible to continue to survive in a society where your own government is weaponized against you.
Where it is becoming increasingly impossible to gain leverage in a society where other new arrival groups are taking advantage of generations of Black heavy lifting advocacy and plotting against you behind closed door as we just recently witnessed in Los Angeles.
In a society where slavery is currently on the ballot in 5 states where laws still allow forced prison labor. In a society where political leadership on both sides of the alle refuse to recognize Reparations as a viable solution.
Those in the culture who have committed crimes against, and literally chained humanity for centuries cannot teach humanity anything. And in their ongoing quest to maintain dominance at the top of the hierarchy, have no incentive to do so.
The most important teaching they will ever engage in will be in the passing down of generational wealth, land, power, and knowledge on maintaining dominance to their offspring, while hoodwinking others into working for them as the only option for their own survival.
And in an increasingly automated global economy, Black Americans have been consigned to the role of consumers. Our sole purpose, as relegated by the dominant culture, is to BUY things, not to produce, own or control anything.
Eventually, if this is allowed to persist unabated, any Black American labor force will be deemed useless or no longer economically viable by those in control and those who are considered higher hierarchy.
Racism in America will eventually become more of a justification and rationalization for maintaining economic, political, and social dominance as we are already beginning to witness in Los Angeles with the emergence of “Lite Supremacy”.
Even the appearance of change by most with influence in the dominate society will be used to maintain their racial dominance in a society that they have created for themselves and pitts others against one another for what little crubs are left over .
As many in the dominate structure become less obviously racist, in their overt attitudes, their wealth and power will remain where it has always been. This is and will always be one of the darker truths about America.
No matter what laws are on the books or what Black, or person of color elected officials are in office across the board, if it ever comes down to the point where the white dominate structure must make a choice of feeding their own children or Black children, nothing will ever make them feed other children before they feed their own.
And while many Black leaders would like to pretend or fantasize that power is rooted in compassion, they must realize that when it comes to any point when those in the dominate society must make a choice in terms of their survival, maintaining power against Black Americans or other new arrival groups, they will ignore the law, anything a Black elected official has to say or whatever obstacles are presented, to maintain supremacy.
Ultimately, Black America’s salvation will rest in pure economic and political power, not in the good will of other people, not in the love of other people, not from the laws currently on the books. It will rest in our ability to compete, produce, own, and protect ourselves from whatever harm may come our way that threatens our survival, quality of life and economic standing in America and around the world.
Therefore, many in the dominate society are against reparations because it is viewed as an existential threat to the hierarchy or natural order of things in America, if you will. Reparation legislation and protective polices represent the creation of an even playing field.
And in a society build off slavery and other crimes against humanity, the fear of an even playing field creates severe anxiety, panic, and a “if we can have it, destroy it all” attitude among a large swath in the dominate society. The prospect of reparations are terrifying.
Whatever its complexity, Black leadership and what ever allies they can muster in the hierarchy, must make confronting racism and repairing history via reparations a priority moving forwards at this most critical time in American history.
They must make it clear that the issue of reparations for a history involving slavery, colonization and other crimes against humanity can no longer be whitewashed, sweep under the rug or ignored as a tangible solution. Time is short and there must be a consistent level of urgency to hold those who committed and are still committing the ongoing crimes, accountable.
White allies must work to educate those in the dominate culture that Reparations are not about what they or their family may or may not have done. It’s about what the dominate white American culture has collectively done and continues to do! They must educate and make them understand that even if they think they never benefited from racism or slavery as a White person, that has nothing to do with reparations.
Black leadership must also come to understand that what has happened specifically to Black American descendants of slaves can’t be fixed by associating race with class or a generalized upliftment of all people.
All people or groups did not experience or were not subjected to Slavery, lynchings, reconstruction, Jim crow, redlining, stolen land/property, economic deprivation, the war on drugs, mass incarceration, police killings and so forth.
The dire condition that Black Americans find themselves in nearing 2023 is the direct result of historic crime against humanity atrocities, practices and policies that have kept Black people from buying or occupying land, the ability to develop thriving communities and being locked out of all economic/generational wealth building opportunity.
Not because of the lived experience or unfortunate situations of new arrival groups. Black American descendants of slaves specific suffering, lived experience, and claim for reparation justice can in no way be linked or lumped in with that of other groups.
Historic redlining, gentrification and economic racial segregation continue to exist to this very day because of specific government policies enacted through the constitution as well through racist urban planning, urban redevelopment, revitalization, predatory and exclusionary banking practices and other so called diversity projects. This was not by accident, but by design.
Without the lineage wealth gap being addressed first and foremost through Reparations, it will be impossible for Black American descendants of slavery to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and magically close the gap over a few decades. They can’t labor or vote their way out of the dire situation because all the wealth is concentrated at the top.
So, with the push for reparations, not only must Black leadership focus on unlearning and reeducating themselves on the many misconceptions and failed solutions that has left Black American descendants of slavery tethered to the bottom of American society, but they must also focus on prioritizing and drafting protective legislation and policies specifically designed to protect the transformation and multigenerational process that it will take to make Black American descendants of slaves and their communities whole through reparations.
The time has also now come for Black Americans to educate themselves more about and question each Black career minded politician and national Black organization claiming to represent them on what they have specifically done concerning the dire plight of Black Americans over the years and hold them accountable.
They must also immediately start the process of grooming and educating young Black future leaders on the most pressing issues and the importance of reparations within those issues.
They must begin to assess and reassess all national and local conversations, legislative actions, polices and other efforts that concern reparations and its implementation. They must become more engaged in local politics. Wealth and political power go hand in hand.
Year after year for Decades now, Black leadership and organizations point out the dire statistical information that Black Americans are facing frequently in wonderfully packaged brochures or reports such as “The state of Black America”, and other forms of media. But They never include or offer any tangible theory, programs, or solutions to address the situation.
And yet we continue to allow this nonproductive complacency to represent our interests, while enduring the devastating and debilitating results. The complacency and lack of urgency that Black America tolerates from its leadership must come to an end and be replaced with a sense of urgency and fresh leadership.
Current Black leadership continues to talk about the word healing. But we cannot heal the world without healing ourselves first and without facing the truth of what has taken place here in America first.
And without needing much more research, much of those truths can be found in Harry S Truman’s “To Secure These Rights: The Report of the President’s Committee on Civil Rights” which was a comprehensive statement of the obstacles that prevented Black Americans from enjoying full citizenship and equal participation in American life.
More truths can also be found in the Kerner report, which was released in 1968, after seven months of investigation. It attributed the riots to lack of economic opportunity for Black Americans and Latinos, failed social service programs, police brutality, racism, and the orientation of national media to white perspectives. “The press has too long basked in a white world looking out of it, if at all, with white men’s eyes and white perspective.”
Reparations can’t just consist of a one time, cure all check paid out to individuals. It must be a multi layered, multi-generational sustained effort that only ends when the lineage wealth gap has been completely decimated.
It must designate descendants of chattel slavery in the United States as a protected category. It must consist of targeted policies and protections, ensuring that the funds aren’t purged or misdirected by the usual suspect predators with in the dominate society.
It must consist of retuning stolen land and transferring promised land that was never received in some type of way. It must involve targeted investment in the ownership and control of labor, land, and property within designated federally protected, exclusive redevelopment safe zones specifically in the Black communities among other things that would be determined as progress it made.
Economic exclusion and poverty have always been at the root of Black American oppression. And when any crisis hists America, Black Americans have always been disproportionately affected. Even at this very moment, Inflation remains out of control. Interest rates are soaring. Violent crime has increased.
The cost of buying a home or a car or paying down credit card debt is substantially more expensive now than at the start of 2022 Covid related deaths and illnesses are on the rise again. The cost of food, rent and utilities are skyrocketing. All of this adds to the disproportionate rates of victimization in Black communities and is a product of ongoing structural racism and crimes against humanity.
Many organizations are asking the public to donate deodorant, soap, shampoo, clothing, and toothpaste – items not covered by food stamps – because the families they serve can no longer afford such necessities. On going and constant exposure to extreme oppression, economic deprivation, police brutality, racism, violence, mental health issues, lack of quality education, jobs, and housing instability—individually and collectively—predict oppression perpetration and Black victimization.
These risk factors occur at high rates in Black communities, largely due to generations of structural and cultural racism. Right now, and for decades to come through reparations, elected officials, community organizations, Black think tanks, statisticians and others can work together to right the wrongs that continue to lead to crimes against humanity and the victimization of Black American descendants of slavery.
As a community partner with Crafting Democratic Futures at Carnegie Mellon University here in Pittsburgh, a national project that creates and leverages a national network of college and university-based humanities scholars working in partnerships with community-based organizations to develop research-informed reparation plans for each location, The Braddock Inclusion Project looks forward to working towards providing tangible solutions on reparations and its implementation.
In the process we also look forwards to working with various national and local organizations, local elected officials, like minded individuals, students, and local universities, including Carnegie Mellon university, on advancing our site development initiatives which will serve as a world class testing ground, mini–Black Wall Street, incubator space/community center.
Through our collective efforts, we hope to provide a blue print on how repartions and sustained multi-generational investments in left behind, marginalized Black communities like Braddock can create a level playing field, improve lives and lead to greater outcomes in what is the experiment that we call America. There can be no economic justice or tangible redress for Black American Descendants of slavery without Reparations.