Charles Bane, Jr.
– As the Confederate Flag starts its descent from capitol domes and merchandise sites, the time has never been more right for the work of Reconstruction, never undertaken, to begin.
The clearest signal of Reconstruction would be a demand of reparations taken up by the N.A.A.C.P. and its youngest and first female National Chairman, Roslyn Brock. The demand can be strengthened by the allied call of the National Organization For Women , The Anti- Defamation League and The National Congress Of American Indians. This must be accompanied by an end to mass incarceration that former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has noted is racist, and ill- boding for our economy.
Also accompanying reparations must be an apology to the African American People by the government which enslaved them to create wealth from unwilling generations of workers. No President has ever issued such an apology.
There are thorny issues waiting to obscure the drive for success. Some may argue ( and the NAACP has played a past role in uncovering the following companies) that only those historic textile, railroad, tobacco, banking and insurance companies that directly profited from the slavery trade should be held accountable for their past actions: though it’s obvious that the entire nation swelled and benefited because of slavery’s existence.
Another argument quickly put forward by Caucasians at the mention of reparations is that , at this remove, it would be impossible to trace directly the descendants of slaves and that, furthermore, not all emigrants of color to America were enslaved. This is not only a false objection, but proves the very need for reparations to be of the widest band, because Black slavery and the terror that sustains it is not only of the past, but of the present day. Try to escape its legacy as you will; there is nowhere in America to go.
Figures vary widely, but there is agreement that $1.6 million dollars per household would allow Black America to leap ahead of disadvantages in wage inequity, housing and education and make them irrelevant in a single generation. The figure will be discussed and argued. But the numbers in the original ledger are not false and, in this, they are like the faith of Mother Emanuel.
Finally, an alliance with other minority organizations and cultures will strengthen the demand of a Black community that can make reparations a reality by following in Gandhi’s footsteps and calling for a national strike. African Americans make up approximately 20% of federal, state and local employees, before even considering their influence on the private sector.
A flag is coming down. A cry is going up.
Charles Bane, Jr. is a second generation civil rights activist and author of The Chapbook ( Curbside Splendor ) , Love Poems ( Aldrich Press) , and Three Seasons: Writing Donald Hall (Collection of Houghton Library, Harvard University ). He created and contributes to The Meaning Of Poetry series for The Gutenberg Project, and is a current nominee as Poet Laureate of Florida. Article submitted by the author and original published on NewBlackMan (in Exile).