Here’s the deal. Black people elected Joe Biden, and he owes them big time. It’s time to once again raise the one demand that fully challenges white supremacy: reparations.
The constitution has reproduced what it was written to produce: a white supremacist republic. Leftists have tended to extol the virtues of the American Revolution, Tom Paine, Jefferson at least rhetorically. I think we need to revise our view. 1776 was a slave owners revolt. As well as a revolt of the land pirate Native genociders. They could see the writing on the wall from London, which abolished slavery in 1831, fully 30 years before the US.
I think the way to address this situation is to organize a national campaign for reparations for descendants of slaves and murdered Native peoples. The Conyers/Lee bill HR 40 (for the acres) has been introduced to Congress every session since 1989. It calls for a commission “to address the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.” To pass this bill would be a start.
The California legislature passed a similar measure just last month: “This bill would establish a Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans, with a Special Consideration for African Americans Who are Descendants of Persons Enslaved in the United States, consisting of 9 members, appointed as provided.”
One thing we can do is influence who gets appointed to this task force. Left to his own devices, Newsome and the heads of the California Senate and Assembly (Toni Atkins and Anthony Rendon) will appoint Willie Brown, London Breed, Tom Bradley if he’s still alive. How about Barbara Lee, Gus Newport, Kimberly Mayfield, Alicia Garza, Walter Riley (or Boots), Derrick Muhammed, Cat Brooks, Caroll Fife, Sandre Swanson, Maxine Waters?
Imagine dramatic hearings going on for months with people testifying about the effects of slavery, Jim Crow, police killings, racism in the schools, and so forth and recommending remedies.
Here’s the description of who gets appointed.
(a) The Task Force shall consist of nine members, appointed as follows:
(1) Five members shall be appointed by the Governor.
(2) Two members shall be appointed by the President pro Tempore of the Senate and two members shall be appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly.
(b) The Governor’s appointees shall include all of the following:
(1) One appointee from the field of academia that has expertise in civil rights.
(2) Two appointees from major civil society and reparations organizations that have historically championed the cause of reparatory justice.
(c) Not more than four appointees shall be Members of the Legislature.
(d) Members shall be drawn from diverse backgrounds to represent the interests of communities of color throughout the state, have experience working to implement racial justice reform, and, to the extent possible, represent geographically diverse areas of the state.
(e) The term of office for members shall be for the life of the Task Force. A vacancy in the Task Force shall not affect the powers of the Task Force and shall be filled in the same manner that the original appointment was made.
(f) The Governor shall call the first meeting of the Task Force to occur no later than June 1, 2021. [END OF QUOTE FROM BILL]
There could be associated demands along the way, like statehood for DC and maybe Puerto Rico, defund the police, end mass incarceration and prison slavery.
It’s time that white people faced our history and made what amends we can for it. Racism doesn’t make you happy. Racism is a grievous injury that cuts white people off from rest of humanity and our own humanness. It’s a cancer that kills our souls.