By Dr. Conrad Worrill, Chicago Crusader
Day-by-day, African people in America are becoming more familiar with the concept of reparations and what it means to our continued struggle in America for self-determination, liberation, independence, and freedom. Therefore, we must be clear that reparations means “repair” for the damages inflicted on a people or a nation. In pursuit of this repair, we are conscious of the fact we must engage in the process and assume responsibility for repairing ourselves, which includes: changing the way we think, supporting our own institutions (particularly financially), supporting our families, supporting our own Black business enterprises, cleaning up our communities, and changing the way we relate to and think of each other as a people. These are just a few of the internal repairs we must constantly work on.
In this connection, part of our internal repair is to struggle, fight, mobilize, and organize to demand external reparations from those governments, corporations, and institutions that are responsible for our historical and continuing state of oppression. Just as Jewish people proclaim, “Never Forget,” African people should do no less!
We should “Never Forget” that “They Owe Us!” Part of our internal repair is to consciously understand that “We Are Owed” and that we have a historic responsibility to demand reparations from those forces of white supremacy that continue to benefit from what they did to us and that lingers on as part of the vestiges of our enslavement.
As we continue to organize around the issue of reparations, we should be clear that “They Owe Us” for:
- The Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery: The United Nations World Conference Against Racism declared that the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery were Crimes Against Humanity. Crimes against humanity have no statute of limitations.
- The Expropriation of Our Labor: For more than 250 years, we were forced to work for free. Our free labor was a major ingredient in the building of the United States and its wealth as a nation. Also, the thousands of white individuals and their families that accumulated wealth and continue to this day to benefit from this free labor.
- The Slave Code Laws: The slave owners developed their own codes of what they could do to enslaved African people in America that permeated throughout the emergence of this country. In many ways, informal slave codes exist today (racial profiling).
- The Destruction of the African Family: The Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery had a devastating impact on destroying and dismantling African families.
- The Raping of African Women: Our capture and enslavement provided white men with the power to rape African women and girls by the thousands without reprisal.
- The Fugitive Slave Laws: When our enslaved ancestors resisted their enslavement and fled plantations, the government of this country sanctioned laws and policies that supported the capture and return of so-called “runaway slaves,” enslaved Africans. The Dred Scott Decision should be consulted to fully understand the implications of the Fugitive Slave Laws.
- The Colonizing of Our African Culture: Created systems by law and societal practices that forbade African people, in our captured state, to engage in our traditional spiritual and cultural practices.
- The KKK Night Riders and Lynchings: The Ku Klux Klan was established in the late 1860s as a secret society whose mission was to exterminate, by any means necessary, African people in America. They were known to have been responsible for the lynching, and murdering of thousands of African men, women, and children.
- The 13th and 14th Constitutional Amendments: The abolishment of slavery was really a constitutional scam and the 14th Amendment that allegedly made African people citizens of America was imposed on us. We were never asked if we wanted to be citizens.
- We Were Denied Our 40 Acres and Our Mule: We didn’t get it! We were sold down the river and the land was given to white confederate soldiers.
- The Jim Crow Laws: The Jim Crow Policies of the United States of America became the fabric and foundation of American society after the period of Reconstruction. Jim Crow Laws and Policies reinforced the foundation of white supremacy and Black inferiority in every aspect of American society.
- The Fighting and Dying in Imperialist and White Supremacist Wars: We fought and died and continue to fight and die for the freedoms of others and were / are denied our own freedoms and civil rights.
- The Assassination of Black Leaders: Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Fred Hampton, and Mark Clark, to name a few.
- COINTELPRO: This was a government program, established by the FBI under the direction of J. Edgar Hoover, designed to destroy the Black Power Movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
- The Crack Epidemic: Research reveals that the United States Government, through the CIA, targeted Black communities for the dispensing of Crack Cocaine.
- The Criminalizing of Our Youth: It should be obvious that the aim of the Prison Industrial Complex is to Criminalize Our Youth to insure a young and viable work force for this multibillion-dollar industry.
- The Jailing of Our Freedom Fighters: The incarcerating of our Freedom Fighters, thus, making them political prisoners.
18 & 19. Centuries of MisEducation and Mental Atrocities: This has caused serious damage to our people, which continues to cause much mental confusion about our true reality as an African people in America and around the world.
No matter how controversial it may be in these economic times, we as African people in the United States of America are “Still Owed!”