by Candace Cooper
“It’s a poison that contaminates and has wounded America for centuries, it’s called racism and the healing process will never begin until the U.S. government does right by the descendants of slaves brought here from Africa,” says Robert “Fleetwood” Bowden, director of the powerful new documentary film “Gimmie Mines Reparations,” debuting in Black History Month 2017. This is the second installment of the film series, “Da Cotton Pickas,” in which the director is taking an in-depth look into the sharecropping era of this country.
Candace Cooper: So what exactly is reparations?
Fleetwood: Webster’s dictionary defines reparations as “the act of making amends, or giving satisfaction for a wrong or injury; something done or given as amends or satisfaction.”
In my opinion, slavery in America was the worst form of the institution to exist in human history, straight up.
Candace Cooper: What are the most common things you hear when the subject of reparations is mentioned?
Fleetwood: Well, many opponents of reparations argue that, unlike the Jews who suffered through the Holocaust or the Japanese-Americans awarded payment for World War II imprisonment by the U.S. government, neither the victims nor the perpetrators of slavery are alive today.
They say it is unfair to hold the descendants of slave-owners responsible for the actions of their ancestors. They further argue that the civil rights measures passed in the 1960s, especially affirmative action programs, were meant clearly to compensate for the injustices of the past.
Candace Cooper: Some say this is another attempt to get free money and free benefits from the government.
Fleetwood: We are not asking for a handout. All we want is an opportunity at equal housing, employment and education. We’re asking for an economic opportunity to create our own.
Candace Cooper: What do you hope to gain with this film?
Fleetwood: My purpose for this project is to create dialogue within the government, the boardroom, the lunchroom and most of all in the households of America between our elders and youth. Conversations about why is it owed? Who made the promise of reparations?
And finally, let’s talk about how do the descendants of slaves go about receiving what is owed to them? My hope is this film will reignite a fire in the movement for reparations.
Candace Cooper: Lastly why did you title this film “Gimmie Mines”?
Fleetwood: Cause I ain’t gonna ask them too many more times.
To learn more about “Gimmie Mines,” contact director Robert Bowden at Fleetwood_189@hotmail.com and find him on Facebook at Robert Bowden. View the trailer, “Gimmie Mines Reparations,” at https://youtu.be/w7olATcf8Q4.
Candace Cooper, a Houston-based writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.