The Urgency of Reparations for Descendants of Black American Slaves: Who’s for it, Who’s not and Who Should Get the Black Vote

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According to a recent Lohud article, New York’s 16th District Congressman Jamaal Bowman was one of the original sponsors of House Resolution 414 in 2023. This resolution provides a comprehensive narrative that outlines the history of slavery in America and underscores the enduring impacts that continue to afflict Black people in the United States.

House Resolution 414 calls for monetary reparations and presents additional policy proposals to address the historical injustices. These proposals include offering free college education at the nation’s 107 Historically Black Colleges and Universities, funding organizations like the National Publishers Association and the National Association of Black Broadcasters, and advocating for the restoration of voting rights for individuals who are currently or have been previously incarcerated.

In addition to Congressman Bowman, former Bedford Supervisor MaryAnn Carr also supports this bill. Carr is currently challenging former Rep. Mondaire Jones for the Democratic nomination in the neighboring 17th District.

However, it’s worth noting that Jones and Westchester County Executive George Latimer, seeking to unseat Bowman, do not endorse HR 414. Instead, they back House Resolution 40, which calls for the establishment of a reparations commission and an official apology from the federal government for its role in decades of sanctioned chattel slavery of Black people.

This raises a crucial question: Why is there a need for further study on this issue when we are already well aware of its existence? The historical enslavement of Black people was not only a known fact but was also sanctioned by the American government. Delving into a study appears to overlook the extensively documented suffering inflicted by American White Supremacy and American institutions. The United States has a long and painful history of oppressing and perpetrating injustice against Black Americans, spanning centuries, including over 400 years of brutal and dehumanizing slavery, followed by the racist Jim Crow laws and practices that denied Black Americans their fundamental rights for nearly a century after the abolition of slavery. Even today, the lasting impacts of these historical injustices continue to manifest through significant economic, social, and health disparities between Black and white Americans.

Furthermore, there are six notable reparation programs designed to compensate for historical injustices. These programs were established by various entities, such as Germany for Holocaust victims, South Africa for victims of apartheid, the U.S. for victims of Japanese internment during World War II, North Carolina for victims of forced sterilization in the mid-20th century, the federal government for victims of the Tuskegee experiment, and Florida for victims of the 1923 Rosewood race riot. Given the existence of these programs, one may question the necessity of conducting a separate study on reparations for the descendants of Black American slaves, especially when the extensive suffering they endured is well-documented and acknowledged.

In 2024, the Biden administration remains steadfast in its commitment to honor the Federal Government’s trust and treaty obligations to Tribal nations and Native communities. Following extensive consultations with Tribes, the Budget allocates $4.7 billion for the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Tribal programs. This funding exceeds the 2023 enacted level by over $690 million and encompasses initiatives aimed at bolstering public safety, justice, social services, and educational requirements. These investments are designed to uphold Federal trust responsibilities and advance equity for Native communities. Additionally, the Budget designates contract support costs and leases at DOI as mandatory expenses for 2024. But when it comes to Black people, we take your vote but we have no money for you!

There is a strong moral argument that reparations are owed to the descendants of slaves and victims of systematic racism. Reparations are about acknowledging this unpaid debt and attempting to compensate, even if only partially, for stolen labor and livelihoods across generations. Economists estimate the current value of unpaid wages during slavery range from $5.9 trillion to over $14 trillion. Even a fraction of this could be transformative in assisting Black communities and helping repair damage done.

Beyond financial restitution, reparations signal an acceptance of responsibility and commitment to redress injustice. This matters for building trust and unity. Continuing to ignore the economic effects of generations of income inequality, racial terrorism, segregation, mass incarceration, employment discrimination and other oppressions makes true reconciliation impossible.

If you’re seeking the support of the Black vote, it’s essential to demonstrate equal support for reparations. Reparations are not about punishing the current generation; instead, they serve as a societal remedy to rectify long-standing systemic injustices that have significantly disadvantaged millions of Black Americans. It’s essential to recognize that just because something is challenging, it shouldn’t deter us from attempting it, especially when a strong ethical imperative exists.

If you agree to allocate funds to other groups, you should also agree to allocate them to Black Americans, with whom you engage, smile, and take pictures during your campaign.

The United States allocates substantial funds to other countries, surpassing other nations by contributing over $530 billion globally between 2012 and 2021. In the most recent data from 2021, the U.S. provided approximately $52.4 billion in foreign aid.

However, despite this generosity towards other countries, there has been a reluctance to address reparations for the descendants of enslaved Black Americans who endured centuries of forced labor, institutionalized white supremacy, and ongoing disparities.

It’s hypocritical to request Black Americans to contribute their tax dollars for aid to other countries while neglecting the documented debts owed to the descendants of enslaved Black people, which are being overlooked in favor of a study.

Black communities within the U.S., particularly those with a history of racial discrimination, currently face conditions resembling war zones and poverty due to the enduring impacts of historical injustices and discriminatory laws.

Black people must stop being puppets for votes and demand that our interest is more significant than the crumbs off their table. We allow those with soft spines to speak for us instead of demanding any elected official, especially our Black elected officials, who do not recognize the necessity of reparations and should not expect the support of Black voters. Why shouldn’t we? Every other ethnic group but us were too busy worrying about photo ops and job appointments. The interests of Black people should be prioritized, just as those of other ethnic groups who receive significant American tax dollars.

It’s time for Black voices to speak up boldly: If you don’t endorse monetary compensation for the 400 years of oppression suffered by Black Americans at the hands of Racist American Governmental institutions, policies and laws, you’re Anti-Black and you’re against the interests of the Black community.

DAMON K JONES
DAMON K JONEShttps://damonkjones.com
A multifaceted personality, Damon is an activist, author, and the force behind Black Westchester Magazine, a notable Black-owned newspaper based in Westchester County, New York. With a wide array of expertise, he wears many hats, including that of a Spiritual Life Coach, Couples and Family Therapy Coach, and Holistic Health Practitioner. He is well-versed in Mental Health First Aid, Dietary and Nutritional Counseling, and has significant insights as a Vegan and Vegetarian Nutrition Life Coach. Not just limited to the world of holistic health and activism, Damon brings with him a rich 32-year experience as a Law Enforcement Practitioner and stands as the New York Representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America.

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