by Baba Jahahara Amen-RA Alkebulan-Ma’at
People of African ancestry across the USA and around our Diaspora were excited to witness the Juneteenth (June 19th) Freedom Day congressional hearing on H.R. 40, “The Commission to Study and DEVELOP REPARATIONS PROPOSALS FOR AFRICAN Americans Act” (emphasis added). I was particularly proud to hear presentations from three of the panelists with Bay Area connections I’ve had the opportunity to work with over several decades: One is brilliant educator, scholar and economist Dr. Julianne Malveaux, who would invite me on her Pacifica Radio Network Radio show in the 1990s and who I subsequently signed up as a member of our National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA).
Another is Baba Danny Glover – our noted political activist, internationalist, contributor and Academy Award-winning actor – who we have stood with shoulder-to-head (since he is much taller than my short 5-foot-11-inch frame) in Africa, Brazil and numerous times in the Bay Area, New York and D.C. on behalf of South Africa, Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela, workers, victims of USA police terrorism and war crimes, and reparations.
Also testifying was Katrina Browne, anti-racist ally and descendant of the unjustly-profited DeWolf family of criminal kidnappers and brutal enslavers. I met her in the 1990s while she was attending the Pacific School of Religion, in Berkeley, and she endorsed H.R. 40 and made a contribution to N’COBRA.
In addition to the aforementioned, scholar and author Ta-Nehisi Coates – the very talented son of former Black Panther Party member Paul Coates, owner of Black Classic Press, based in Baltimore – provided eloquent testimony and sharp rebuttal to the liar deniers during this initial hearing. Read his statement at https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/06/ta-nehisi-coates-testimony-house-reparations-hr-40/592042/.
As for the significance of this first hearing on our reparations bill since our now-retired elder and Congressman John Conyers held a one-day session in 2007, it was long overdue! Our N’COBRA not only played a role in helping to draft, and now revise, H.R. 40; our leadership has been educating, surveying, organizing and mobilizing our community members for 30-plus years through critical discussions, legal challenges and necessary actions in the USA and internationally for reparations.
And, we have been opposed by the lead politicians of each of the ruling political parties, not only over the past three decades by the Republicans and Democrats, but since our first ancestors were violently made prisoners-of-war, kidnapped and transported from our Mother African continent, raped, robbed, mis-educated and brutally enslaved, imprisoned and tortured for more than FIVE CENTURIES.
Therefore, we should have no illusions that the Democratic Party’s corporate-funded leadership – who owe their unearned riches to abusing and stealing African and Indigenous nations’ labor and resources – have now gained a righteous “spirituality” and are ready to bring about full reparations. No, no. the Democrats are now paying “lip-service” to reparations because they want to turn out their, unfortunately, most “loyal” African voting constituency in order to win the 2020 elections.
It is easy for them to say they are now for reparations. They realize that with the current alignment with their kindred of monopoly imperialist supported USA senators and resident Trump in office, there is little chance of implementing H.R. 40 or our new S.1083 companion bill sponsored by Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey. That is, without us building mass movements to make them give us what we need! Asé. So, let us not be, as our great Ancestor Malik Shabazz would say, misled, hoodwinked, bamboozled or led astray.
Still, we must fully embrace this moment! Broaden this opening to envision the reparations we need to fully repair and heal African nations and people and increase the participation of our people in making our desperately needed reparations a reality – now! – because this issue of reparations is bigger than all of us! So, I’m encouraging each of us as individuals and every organization to exercise all of our collective powers – especially of Imani (Faith) and Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) – to involve more of our people in this monumental effort.
May we elders be wise enough to engage our youth more fully and be prepared to get-out-da-way so that they can begin taking the lead in creating our bright future, generations forward. Certainly, we must use this period to invest in more respectful dialogue with one another. Let us not forget the voices of our dozens of wrongfully imprisoned and exiled political leaders, as well as the needs and wishes of our millions of unjustly incarcerated relatives, which we didn’t have the ability to do in a significant way in the 1990s.
In short, we collectively must be the drivers, the determiners, of what our reparations should be! Not the politicians, be they of African or European ancestry. Asé. Mos def we have to use these current developments for more collective Umoja (Unity) planning for success. And, most significantly, we must upgrade our mass mobilizations, flex our economic power through buy-outs and buy-ins, as well as direct actions of every type to disrupt this ongoing system of enslavement.
Immediately ahead, I would respectfully recommend those serious about making reparations a reality – and not just “debating” the subject – fully read books on reparations. Go to your local African bookstore, such as Marcus (Garvey) Books in Oakland) or public library, or we can provide a list upon request. Next, study, reflect on and discuss H.R. 40 and S.1083 starting with your family, organization, spiritual institution, classmates, labor union, club etc.
Then, publicly endorse the legislation and demand A VOTE AND PASSAGE OF H.R. 40 and S.1083! Call and write letters to your particular congressperson and senator who is not yet an endorser of the legislation. And let them know that if they haven’t done this minimal act, that you will soon join with others in coming to their offices and/or public or private events. If they are already a co-sponsor, thank them and request hearings be held in your area or congressional district.
Of course, as we expressed earlier, winning reparations is about much more than the corrupt legislative process. It will require actions on many levels. So, I would ask that you become connected to one or more of the groups that have been a part of this righteous effort. My personal preference is N’COBRA. It is a coalition that includes a diverse membership from our African community, in the USA and Diaspora. While we have our differing backgrounds and perspectives, everyone who is for reparations and comes forward with respect for others is welcome.
So help us achieve this mandate for our generations by getting involved. Go to www.ncobraonline.org for additional info. Copy, complete and mail the members’ form. And get in touch with local reparations advocates, like yours truly, to set-up a dialogue with your network. Asante Sana (Many Thanks)! Asé.
WEmembering and honoring our past and newest Ancestors, including: EARL GRANT, a colleague of EL HAJJ MALIK EL SHABAZZ (aka, Minster MALCOLM X) and co-organizer of the Organization for Afro American Unity (OAAU); my high school classmate and football teammate VICTOR MCCOY; JAMAL TATE, Sun of our God(dess) Tiyesha Meroe, aka Lesley Phillips; MARIE HARRISON, our beloved environmental justice advocate here in the Bay Area; and, our great political activist, former Chi-Light (Chicagoan) and Black Panther Party member BRUCE DIXON. Finally, this Fourth of July, our family is celebrating the 96th Sacred B’EARTHday of our dear God(dess) Mother ELIZABETH ELIZANN OAKS-ARMSTRONG. May the lives and contributions of all our Ancestors continue to be an inspiration to each of us. Asé-O.
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#BlackLivesMatter #AfricansDeserveReparations #BringOurEldersHomeNow #AbolishPrisons
Jahahara Amen-RA Alkebulan-Ma’at, fka European enslavement name “James ‘Harry’ Armstrong,” is a Baba (Father), a “FREE-tired” community-labor-environmental and justice organizer, writer, musician and author of several books, including “Many Paths to Kujichagulia (Self-Determination).” Take a listen to a few songs from his musical catalog, including the new “500 YEARS OF AFRIKAN RESISTANCE!!!” at https://soundcloud.com/search?q=jahahara. Invite Jahahara to present at your group, school, church or event c/o email@example.com or FONAMI, P.O. Box 10963, Oakland, CA 94610 usa.