As the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic in America becomes entrenched, the attention to reparations for slavery will increase. The House of Representatives bill, HR40 Reparations Remedy bill, is a good start. It has been presented in congress every session since it was first introduced by John Conyers in 1989. It has never been taken up for consideration in the past 30 years.
In my opinion, there will never be serious consideration of HR40 or reparations for slavery and US government complicity in the development of harmful policies and practices that negatively impacted Black people since the post-civil war era. I believe the primary reason for this is the link and control of Congress by the wealthiest corporations in America. These corporations and their precursor companies have benefited for centuries from the free labor of Black men and women. Many of them continue to benefit from the significantly reduced cost of labor of prisoners, most of whom are Black. Every credible historical review has revealed these facts to the American public and the world. This has not resulted in any damage to the fortunes of these corporations. They will not support and will likely lobby against reparations for slavery and its legacy in America.
The only path to obtaining reparations is to change public sentiment on the topic or to make it economically painful for the corporations and the federal government to continue to oppose reparations. If the gridlock and opposition that occurred with the move to take down confederate monuments is any indication, we will be waiting an indeterminant time for public sentiment to change enough for successful passage of legislation. I believe the more expedient path is to create an economic incentive for American corporations and the federal government to support the payment of reparations. This choice will have its own repercussions depending on the tactics used. Pressuring corporate business entities will also effectively pressure the federal government. The use of multiple approaches will be most fruitful depending on the nature of the business and its mode of operation.
Acts of civil disobedience can be carried out by independent action teams organized at the local level. There must be actions teams in every 50 to 100 square mile sections of the contiguous United States.
If one agrees with this approach of targeted offensive acts of civil disobedience meant to disrupt normal operations of the top 700 corporations in the nation, the next step is how to facilitate an active program. This will require a significant effort of all Black Americans and those aligned with our goal for reparations that include direct payments to the descendants of slaves.
The technical activities required to implement a “reparations now” approach must be completely independent from any political or action components of the movement. This will allow for the system development, data acquisition, and publishing of location information to be facilitated without legal entanglements. The use of a geographical information system (GIS) that can publish maps of thousands of locations across the nation can be developed by a small team of mathematicians, computer, social, and economic scientists. This technology is readily available. The key component is the database. Database information developed from publicly available resources, corporate data reports, and human intelligence will form the basis of the GIS system. An artificial intelligence component would be required to determine the politically strategic priorities based on the business, economic and governmental contemporary news gathered from social media and mainstream sources. The goal would be to develop an app that would publish news alerts and frequently updated mapping of locations that are most valuable and available for possible advocacy for reparations. Think “Google Maps” for reparations advocacy and civil disobedience.
This vision of a “bottom up” approach is something that we as Black Americans can do for ourselves to bring attention and pressure to a long overdue measure of justice for slavery and its legacy. The launching of an effort like this will depend on a number of variables: funding, talent recruitment, overall support and engagement of the Black community, legal advice and disposition, as well as support and promotion of the project by notable Black personalities.
America is all about the money. If we can’t get justice and we can’t get paid for the free labor and economic oppression over centuries, then let’s work to stop those at the top from getting paid. Let’s protest and disrupt operations. This pressure will provide leverage for those negotiating for reparations.
The Angry Man
We all know an angry man. It seems he always speaks with passion even when the words appear