by The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey
For over 500 years, African people have been fighting enslavement and genocide against white and Arab slavery. Billions of lives later, we are still fighting for self-determination and reparations today. Long time people’s warrior Jahahara Alkebulan has written a book on the subject titled “Afrikans Deserve Reparations!” that we all need to take the time and analyze. Check him out in his own words.
M.O.I. JR: What inspired you to get involved in the reparations movement? When?
JAA-M: Jambo, Brother JR. Asante sana (many thanks in Swahili) for taking the time to allow me to share my inner-views. Please know how much I appreciate the great work you have been doing for years with our Bay View newspaper, which is amazingly in its 40th year, and with The Block Report. Asé.
I’ve been involved in the Afrikan liberation and reparations movements in the United Capitalist Prison States of America (UCPSA) and around our Afrikan Diaspora for several decades. My motivation comes from seeing as a child so many Afrikan people abused, exploited and impoverished.
My own parents were working full time in addition to having part-time jobs, and me and four of my six brothers were also working as youths. And we still couldn’t seem to get too far ahead.
My parents were also active leaders in their Baptist church and, to a lesser extent, for civil, voters’ and labor rights. I also had friends beat up and even killed by the cops. And I’ve been roughed up and arrested myself.
While I attended some rallies and protest marches during my middle and high school days in the 1960s and early 1970s – and was certainly influenced by the powerful work and writings of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense chapters in Kansas City, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois – I was more into sports, chasing girls, making a little money, exploring alcohol and drugs, and partying.
I didn’t become fully committed to our movement until 1972 while a freshman architecture student at the University of Kansas. I should note that it was the Panthers as well as Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s brave actions that inspired me to give up my athletic scholarships and career in sports and accept the academic path.
At that time, I felt my contribution to Afrikan people here and worldwide was through acquiring a technical skill. While at KU, I became deeply involved in our Black Student Union, Student and Youth Organization for Black Unity, African Liberation Support Committee and in helping organize for our first mass African Liberation Day commemorations, in Washington, D.C. in 1972.
M.O.I. JR: What inspired you to write “Afrikans Deserve Reparations”?
JAA-M: This particular book – which has as a subtitle, “Many Paths to Kugichagulia, or Self-Determination” – is a continuation of my daily actions and literary work over the decades. It is also a follow-up to two previous books, which I’m sure you have: “Dripping With Blood: European-UCPSA Capitalism’s First World War, Enslavement Maafa and Gang Rape of the African and Indigenous Nations” (6239/1999) and “Reparations Sasa (Now): Towards Ma’at” (6247/2007).
I believe it is critical that we activists, especially but not limited to we who are fortunate to become Elders, take the time to reflect and “marinate” and then express our inner-views, our wisdom gained, our numerous shortcomings and many lessons learned … in writing … and, if possible, in book form.
M.O.I. JR: What inspired you to give your book that name?
JAA-M: Great question, my Brother! For many years, I and others have been shoutin’ ‘bout and organizin’ round the slogan of “We demand reparations for Afrikan people!” I even wrote, recorded and have performed all over the world a piece with that title back in 6232/1992, which sort of became the unofficial “theme song” of our growing movement.
At that time, my assessment was that our movement was building rapidly. It was really growing! We were coming together in a unified way. We were starting to create and exercise some of our incredible POWER.
People from numerous sectors and classes were no longer laughing at us movement builders, or self-hating. They were joining us, bringing their energy, creativity and followers. And we were able to win some major victories!
A few of our imprisoned political leaders were released by the criminal government. We supported our Black farmers to force “poli-tricksters” and hustlers like Dollar Bill Clinton and his then head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to agree to allocate billions to keep some of our land!
Some criminal banks and insurance companies, whose tremendous wealth is based on the genocide and robbery of Afrikan and Indigenous nations, sought to cut some “deals” with selected Black groups, based on our grassroots and legal efforts. And we collectively organized Reparationists around our Diaspora to get the majority of nations and states in the world, with the exception of the criminal UCPSA and the apartheid state of Isreal, to agree with us that the enslavement of Afrikan people was a crime against humanity – and that reparations are due to us, the victims and survivors!
Now, I’m blessed to have been around long enough to have witnessed the inevitable ebbs, tides and flows of our movements. Our reparations movements are no different. We are not on the offensive right now. We need to rebuild and reconnect our power.
After a former community organizing colleague of ours in Chicago, Barack Obama, ran for and then won the imperialist presidency, many in our movements got caught up, confused and stopped organizing. A number of them put false “faith” in this deadly, terrorist, racist-for-profit system. Some even opined foolishness such as “Barack’s winning the White (Supremacy’s) House was reparations.”
So a few years ago, I felt the need to make a major change. I went from advocating “We demand reparations” to having to convince many of our people that Afrikans deserve reparations! And, yes, I composed, recorded and shared another original song with that title, in 2011. One of the first lines in the song is “We deserve and demand clean water.”
Tell me what’s happening in Flint and Detroit City and many other areas? Mostly, Afrikan populations are being either cut off from water or forced to drink contaminated water. Another crime against our humanity!
A few years ago, I felt the need to make a major change. I went from advocating “We demand reparations” to having to convince many of our people that Afrikans deserve reparations!
During this period, we also had a number of profound leaders – like Imari and Gaidi Obadele, Kalonji Olusegun, Dorothy Lewis, Hannibal Afrik, Erline Arikpo, Sonny Abubadika Carson, Ron Walters, Njere Alghanee, Geronimo ji Jaga, Kwame Afoh, Dudley Thompson, Elombe Brath, Amiri Baraka, Chokwe Lumumba, Johnny Cochran, Herman Ferguson, Hugo Chavez and so many other contributors – make their sacred transformations to Spirit. And that has left a major void in our ranks.
But I’m confident in how our younger generations are now building a new leadership core. And, they deserve our full support.
M.O.I. JR: What is “Afrikans Demand Reparations” about?
JAA-M: I believe you mean, “Afrikans Deserve Reparations!” Right? It’s mostly about … you! People in communities I visit around the UCPSA and Diaspora often criticize me for their not knowing or not enough happening on the reparations front. I now throw it back to them: What are your views? And, more importantly, what are you doing to achieve reparations?
So this book in particular is less about what I believe and fight for and more about challenging all of us, each of our groups and institutions, to do more than we have been doing. For example, the most critical part of this book for me is a chapter subtitled “Now You Know the Truth! So What YOU Gonna Do?”
M.O.I. JR: What did you think about British PM Cameron coming to Jamaica last summer and telling the nations of the Caribbean community to not expect reparations, because they should remember the history of how Britain helped to end slavery in the Americas?
JAA-M: F… the criminal Cameron and his ilk! Cameron’s message doesn’t mean a damn thing to us! He doesn’t speak for me! Or you! Or our family in the Caribbean! Or for Afrikans in England!
Reparations for Afrikan nations and ascendants and descendants are not up to him … or Obama or the Clintons or the Democratic Party or Republican Party or European Union or Wall Street and the corporate criminals. Our deciding on, mobilizing for, winning, taking and then defending our reparations is completely up to us!
It is we who must determine our specific needs … and then mobilize to make it happen. And yes, by any means necessary! All options are on the table. I will say again and again: When we take our righteous steps … our Divine will do the rest. We have the POWER as determined Afrikan people to achieve every just reparation! We just need to reconnect! Asé.
M.O.I. JR: How do we Afrikans sum up what is owed to us?
JAA-M: Another solid question, Brother JR. Now let’s be clear: There is not enough material or labor-generated wealth on this planet to pay us for even one Afrikan life taken … let alone, the billions of Afrikan lives lost, stolen, damaged and shortened in the over half-of-a-millennium of devastating European wars of enslavement, continuous Maafas (or great human-generated disasters), horrific crimes against humanity and nature, and gang rape of Afrikan and indigenous nations! Asé.
In fact, that’s what this particular book hopes to re-initiate some discussion around. What do we need as Afrikan nations and people? And, how we gonna take it. Now, from the early to mid-6230s/1990s, our National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) surveyed thousands of our people across the UCPSA. We went to high schools and colleges, churches and mosques, barber and beauty shops, malls, street-corners, jails, prisons, concerts, on TV and radio, wherever our people gathered.
The result was our Six Reparations Downpayment Demands that we began to organize our struggle around. They ranged from the immediate release of political prisoners and unjustly-incarcerated family members to billions in payments for individual families, education, community economic development and to save and return Black-owned land.
At my urging, we later added a Seventh Demand, which was full support for the reparations demands of continental and Diasporan Afrikan nations – from Zimbabwe to Haiti – including the cancellation of the trillions in odious “debt” supposedly owed to the IMF, World Bank and corporations in the UCPSA, EU etc.
So I’m hoping to help re-ignite further discussion … and, especially, necessary actions, which helps build a movement towards a major democratic plebiscite, as many, like our beloved Ancestor Geronimo ji Jaga, tirelessly advocated for. This is where Afrikan people will come together in mass assemblies and conventions to discuss self-determination and reparations and then decide on our collective actions.
M.O.I. JR: How long did it take for you to write “Afrikans Deserve Reparations”?
JAA-M: This particular work was basically ready five or six years ago. Of course, I’ve tweaked it a bit. However, I, like everybody else, have been busy with other immediate justice efforts in our communities and around the Afrikan Diaspora, as well as addressing some complicated family matters and health issues.
I am proud to have spent significant energy over the past seven years helping grow a once tiny non-profit Oakland-based solar company into an institution that now offers FREE cost-saving solar electric systems and energy efficiency and home improvement services each year to thousands of mostly lower-income Afrikan and Latino families – as well as FREE training in solar installation and job referrals for thousands of youth, unemployed and underemployed and formerly-incarcerated brothers and sisters – not only in the Bay Area, but now all around California, Indigenous lands like Pine Ridge, Navajo and others, Colorado, the D.C.-Baltimore-Virginia area, New York and Jersey, Nicaragua and soon other locations.
Now, that I’m “FREE-tired” from that more than full-time community work, I hope to contribute more profoundly to our movements for reparations and helping free our long-suffering imprisoned political leaders. Asé.
M.O.I. JR: Where can people get “Afrikans Demand Reparations”?
JAA-M: Folks can pick up my “ADR” book and my other books, as well as great books like your “Block Reportin’” series, at Marcus (Garvey) Books, 3900 MLK Way in Oakland. I encourage every member of our community to support this great institution, the oldest Afrikan-owned bookstore in the UCPSA.
Or they can order directly from me: ADR, P.O. Box 10963, Oakland, CA 94610. I will also be touring around the UCPSA over the next period, and I’m always open to accept invitations to present and share with any group, campus, political or spiritual institution.
M.O.I. JR: When will you be at Marcus Books in Oakland?
JAA-M: We invite our Bay View readers to join us at Marcus (Garvey) Books in Oakland, on Saturday, 30 April, beginning promptly at 5 p.m. Again, the address is 3900 MLK Way, two blocks from the MacArthur BART. You can reach us by email at email@example.com or on Facebook.
The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.