Filed Under:  National, News

Reparations activists ready for new phase in long struggle

27th April 2015   ·   0 Comments

By Linn Washington Jr.
Contributing Writer

(Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from North­Star­ — Racism is a topic that usually divides Black and white Ameri­cans. However, iconic civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson said there is one contentious race-mired issue where Blacks and whites seemingly share a similar posture.

“Blacks and whites have one thing in common. They will not discuss reparations,” Jackson said, defining reparations for slavery and post-slavery institutional racism as “repair for damage done.”

This common aversion among Blacks and whites to address reparations comes from “different reasons” Jackson noted.

“On the topic of reparations, whites are in denial and Blacks think reparations cannot be attained.”

Rev. Jackson offered his assessment of America’s reparations-denial-dynamic during his keynote address at the opening session of the International Reparations Summit held recently in New York City. Participants for that three-day conference came from three continents. The Institute of the Black World 21st Century, a research, policy and advocacy organization based in the United States convened the Summit.

Dr. Ron Daniels, President of the Institute, stated, “We are delighted that the Institute of the Black World can be a clearinghouse for ideas and strategies on how to pursue reparations for historical crimes and injustices against people of African descent in the U.S. and across the Americas.”

One participant at that Summit was Mirelle Fanon-Mendes-France, the daughter of the legendary intellectual-activist-author Franz Fanon. She is president of the Franz Fanon Foundation. The writings of Franz Fanon have provided inspiration for legions of reparations advocates.

“Apologies cannot compensate for the injustices of slavery and colonialism. The time is now for concerted progress on economic and political compensation,” the internationally respected human rights activist Fanon-Mendes-France said during her remarks at the opening session of the Summit.

An action in 2013 reenergized reparations activities already operative in the U.S., throughout the Americas, in Africa and in Europe. That year CARICOM, the organization of Caribbean nations, announced its plans to mount actions against former European colonial countries for the slave trade, colonialism and genocide against indigenous peoples. CARICOM’s announcement was the first time that a collection of countries formally agreed to mount coordinated action for reparations.

“We have a just cause. And we have a duty to right the wrongs done during the slave trade, slavery and colonialism,” CARICOM representative Dr. Douglas Slater said during the opening session of the Summit. “Today, racism continues to impede development of African peoples all over the world.”

Efforts by African Americans to obtain some form of reparations for slavery began in the mid-1800s, initially with demands for land for the freed slaves as compensation for their unpaid labor.

CARICOM Reparations Com­mis­sion chair, Sir Hilary Beckles, said, “One purpose of the reparatory moment is to rebuild the inner-core of humanity” during his keynote speech at the Summit’s closing session.

“This movement is about cleansing the world of the toxic effects of slavery that continue into our time,” Beckles said. “Plantation overseers have become policemen. There is a transfer of that plantation mentality into police precincts.”

This article originally published in the April 27, 2015 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

Readers Comments (0)

You must be logged in to post a comment.