OF TERROR AND PROMISE

Photo Credit: Rodney Ladson
Listen to Author Reading Essay

She kept the casket open, because, she said, she did not want to bury his memory under the rug. She wanted the world to see what had been done to her son.

Black people have had to stomach official, sanctioned denial about white terrorism for centuries. Two weeks ago indisputably revealed that white terrorism must not be ignored, marginalized or diminished.

There were no amends for illegal kidnapping, cultural assault and nearly 300 years of forced free labor, followed by 100 years of convict leased labor, black codes, sharecropping, the peonage system, lynchings, mass murders, systemic racism, Jim Crow apartheid, gerrymandering, redlining, educational inequities and mass incarceration, just to name a few.

In all my pain, I found a magic word, one way more powerful than Shazam or Abracadabra or Open Sesame. It was a word that gave my pain definition: Reparations! To find a word, a term one is searching for imbues a person with a new purpose. The word itself can define the world and then give direction to the deed.

1) The formal acknowledgment of historical wrong and an official, unfettered apology.

2) The recognition that the injury has continued throughout the years and still manifests today.

3) The commitment to redress by culpable parties who enjoyed unjust enrichment, including federal, state and local government, corporations and industries, religious and educational institutions, and private estates.

4) The actual compensation, in whatever form or forms are agreed upon.

In 2021, we are still waiting for lawmakers in Washington to pass HR-40, as the formerly scalding-hot R-word is now hip and mainstream. Moreover, as the result of over 30 years of legislative delay, the demand not only now includes the development of specific remedies, but also requests the incoming President sign an Executive Order for the Reparations Commission.

The National African American Reparations Commission, on which I serve, asserts that “No amount of material resources or monetary compensation can ever be sufficient restitution for the spiritual, mental, cultural and physical damages inflicted on Africans by centuries of the MAAFA, the holocaust of enslavement and the institution of chattel slavery… which spanned generations to negatively affect the collective well being of Africans in America to this very moment.”

King’s struggles and sacrifices have never ceased to be current news, 53 years after his Poor People’s Campaign that was going to nonviolently stop business in Washington, was severely stymied by his assassination. He got shot in the neck for just thinking aloud about stopping business-as-usual in the nation’s capital, while those white supremacist-terrorists that succeeded almost two weeks ago were allowed to break in, threaten the lives of police and Congresspersons and their staff, and then turn around and prance out with impunity. The fact that more are being arrested as I write is good, but totally insufficient. They were not exercising freedom dreams, as was the moral intent of King’s campaign. Their designs were evil — and sanctioned by their kid-gloves treatment from the U.S. Capitol Police.

“Thar he,” he proclaimed, standing up and pointing to Bryant and Milam. Of course he could not stay in the state that night.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store