May 15, 2008 - Issue 277
On The Importance of Reparations and Self-Determination
Keeping it Real
By Larry Pinkney
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board
The corporate / military / prison apparatus rulers of the U.S. Empire are quick to tell those they rule to take responsibility for being exploited. This is of course the ridiculous and hypocritical irony of ironies. And it is typically “American.”
It is not particularly unusual these
days to hear some liberal and/or so-called progressive vociferously
demanding that the U.S. Government pay reparations to the horribly pillaged
The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word reparations, in relevant part as:
1) The act or process of repairing or the condition of being repaired
2) The act or process of making amends; expiation
3) Something done or paid to compensate or make amends.
The components, consisting of repair, amends, and compensation, are integral to what reparations means and fundamentally is all about.
Self determination, i.e. the ability
to determine one’s own economic, political, and social destiny in a
very real and practical sense, is yet another aspect of human existence
that has been, and continues to be, denied Black people
collectively in the
As Black political activist and former Oakland, California, City Council Member Wilson Riles so poignantly wrote in his brilliant piece titled, Unpaid Debt=Anger, “Any talk about gains through merit rings hollow when folks luxuriate in gains earned through genocide, theft, slavery, and discrimination.” Nothing could be more accurate in this regard.
The right to reparations and
self-determination are not, and cannot be ameliorated
or made to go away by the occasional meaningless and self-serving
apologies for slavery, etc., especially in view of the ongoing
collective disenfranchisement and subjugation of Black people in the
The rights to reparations and self determination are, in fact, human rights that continue to be, and have too long been, systemically denied Black America collectively. This is yet another urgent and important reason as to why we must organize, build, and work outside the corporate / military / prison apparatus of the Democratic and Republican Parties [i.e. the Republicrats].
Politically conscious Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, and White peoples in this nation and throughout the world, know that there can be no real forward movement without forthrightly addressing and supporting the human rights to and of reparations and self determination - beginning right here in the United States of America.
Without systemic change outside the Democratic and Republican Parties, the physical murders and judicial lynchings (as in the case of the murdered Sean Bell in New York City and so very many others) will continue unabated, unaffected by hypocritical and meaningless feel-good rhetoric. It is the people - we ourselves - who are the only ones we can or should count on to bring about serious and real economic, political, and social justice and change in this nation. It will not happen unless we make it happen.
For the sake of the peoples of this nation and the entire planet, we must remain steadfast in our active commitment not only to the attainment of reparations and self determination but concomitantly to building and organizing for real justice and equality for all peoples, all our sisters and brothers throughout the world; for we are comrades and until we all have our human rights - none of us do.
We are comrades in this most important struggle. We are struggling for fundamental systemic change, not meaningless cosmetic reform. Our ancestors are smiling upon us in this quest. The time is now. Onward then…the future beckons and the struggle continues…
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Larry Pinkney, is a veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully self-authored his civil/political rights case to the United Nations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In connection with his political organizing activities in opposition to voter suppression, etc., Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally televised PBS NewsHour, formerly known as The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker, by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn]. (Click here to read excerpts from the book) Click here to contact Mr. Pinkney.