National Strategic Reparations Plan: Part II
III. THE OPERATIONAL DEFINITION FOR BLACK AFRICAN AMERICAN REPARATIONS AS THE BASIS FOR A NATIONAL STRATEGIC REPARATONS PLAN PUT FORTH IN THIS DOCUMENT 1
(A) GOVERNMENTAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT, APOLOGY, ATONEMENT, AND COMPENSATION FOR ITS PARTICIPATION IN THE SEIZURE AND MISUSE OF VALUABLE PROPERTY --LABOR PROPERTY--TAKEN FROM BLACK AFRICAN AMERICANS WHO WORKED AS SLAVES BETWEEN 1775-18652 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) COMPENSATION (DEMONSTRATING THE ATONEMENT) FOR THE 140-YEAR SET OF GOVERNMENT-SUPPORTED ACTIVITIES CALLED JIM CROWISM AND BLACK SEGREGATION (INCLUDING THE LYNCHING, MURDERING AND RAPING OF BLACK PEOPLE, AND THE RAZING OF BLACK TOWNSHIPS) ALL OF WHICH RELEGATED AFRICAN AMERICANS TO THE BOTTOM RUNGS OF SOCIETY; (C) COMPENSATION (DEMONSTRATING ATONEMENT) AT FAIR MARKET VALUE FOR CONTINUING GOVERNMENT-SUPPORTED ANTI-BLACK SOCIO-POLITICAL-ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES AND THEIR CONSEQUENCES THAT HAVE DEPRIVED AFRICAN AMERICANS OF RESPECT AND THEIR RIGHTFUL HONORED PLACE IN USA SOCIETY.
(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.
(E) THE FORMULATION OF ACTION PLANS—BOTH SHORT-TERM AND LONG-TERM---TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEMS AND NEGATIVE ASPECTS ASSESSED AND IDENTIFIED, AND THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THOSE PLANS.
A STRAIGHTFORWARD BREAKDOWN
WHAT REPARATIONS IS: (Based on our continuing veneration of and connection to our African and African descendent ancestors)
1. It is our race-based quest for justice in America.
2. It is our race-based quest for the restoration and redemption of our dignity and positive worth as a people in this country and on this planet.
3. It is our relentless quest to achieve respect for simply being Black
people in this country and in this world. The single collective existence of Black people in America and on this planet is one of common, habitual and omnipresent disrespect. From that core (a nurtured product of white supremacy) all else that ails us comes.
4. It is the race-based quest for an Apology (to our Ancestors)—An Atonement (to demonstrate the sincerity or at least the seriousness of the Apology)--and Compensation (in some form decided by Black people in the USA).
5. It is the race-based quest to heal this country of its racist past and
present, and to provide a viable, non-racist alternative for this country’s future.
6. It is the accumulation of overwhelming bushels of evidence, including personal testimony, property records and deeds, financial profits and transactions, historical documentation and a clear sense of righteous indignation together balled up into tight, steel-trap arguments that will compel victory in the foreseeable future.
7. It is a national/regional struggle in the USA that is closely intertwined with a global reparations struggle against vestiges of colonialism and capitalist exploitation. A reparations victory anywhere will show the way for reparations victories everywhere!!
8. It is both an Internal struggle for us to redeem and rescue ourselves, and an External struggle to exact acknowledgement, apology and atonement for this country’s long-term abuse and exploitation of Black people.
9. It is a demand for the release and return of our Black political prisoners.
10. It is logical, it is correct, and it is winnable.
WHAT REPARATIONS IS NOT:
1. It is not a plea for a hand-out, another welfare program, nor an extortion plot to fleece White folk. Reparations is not solely an economics issue—we cannot buy the respect that is due us.
2. It is not a substitute for regular and ordinary social programming done by the USA government.
3. It is not a far-out fantasy of the lunatic fringe.
4. It is not an issue that Black folk will simply forget and “get over it.”
5. It is not going to be won by trying to solve all our problems at once.
We must focus our efforts.
6. It is not the panacea for all Black problems, but it is the beginning of our being able to end those ills that have kept us down for so long.
7. It will not cause more racial friction; it will finally allow racial healing in America.
8. It is not a struggle that can be won by one segment of the Black population in the USA. To win, we need a coming together of virtually all segments of the Black population.
9. It is not a struggle for the lazy and one-time participant. To win this struggle we must be relentless for reparations.
10. It is not a struggle that will be won by emotion, zeal, righteousness and passion alone. We must have continuous strategic planning, common sense, mother wit and mutual respect to get this done.
1 The Operational Definition of reparations, which is the basis of this NSR Plan, was developed and submitted by The Reparations Research & Advocacy Group, Los Angeles, California and enhanced
by suggestions from participants and Planning Group members for the National Reparations Congress, Los Angeles/Compton, California, 2004); approved and adopted by the RUF membership, September, 2004.
This Operational Definition 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 Emmit Till and the Civil Rights Movement?
In reality, there exists no clarity in the Reparations Movement about what historical period we are referring to when demanding repair. That makes it amorphous and virtually impossible to focus on and achieve. That is characteristic of conceptual definitions.
Operational definitions are more specific, pragmatic, clarifying articulations of a process, thing or activity and can be more readily put into tangible action.
The NRC NSRPlan respectfully recognizes and acknowledges the following two aspects of the current conceptual definitions of
Reparations, one international, the other national:
(a) The Van Boven Report, 1989, representing the U.N. Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, stated that, “Reparations includes restitution, compensation, rehabilitation and, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition. Restitution refers to measures such as restoration of liberty, family life, citizenship, return to one’s place of residence and, return of property.
These measures seek to re-establish the situation that existed prior to the violations of human rights and humanitarian law. Compensation refers to monetary compensation for any economically assessable damage resulting from violations of human rights and humanitarian law. Rehabilitation includes medical and psychological care as well as legal and social services. Satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition includes, inter alia, an apology (including public acknowledgement of the facts and acceptance of responsibility) and, measures to prevent recurrence of the violations.” This quote is from “International Law Obligations to Provide Reparations for Human Rights Abuses,” by Antonio Buti, Murdoch University School of Law, as provided by The Afrikan American Institute For Policy Studies and Planning, Greenville, South Carolina.
(b) N’COBRA’s conceptual definition of reparations is, “Payment of a debt owed; the act of repairing a wrong or injury; to atone for wrongdoings; to make amends; to make one whole again; the payment of damages; to repair a nation; compensation in money, land, or materials for damages.”
2 Although it is more regularly asserted that American slavery began for Black folk either in 1619 with the landing of the Dutch slave ship in Jamestown, or 1661-1664, when Maryland, and then Virginia, made slavery a specifically color-coded thing, the dates here refer to the birth and legal establishment of America (the USA) as an independent and “sovereign” country in 1775-77, with the Second Continental Congress’ declaration of the United States of America, the writing of America’s first Constitution (the Articles of Confederation), and the Declaration of Independence. Colonial America—1607-1775-- was “owned” and regulated by England and English companies..