The National African American Reparations Commission Praises Progress on Reparations – Expresses Concern Over Attacks on Sen. Kamala Harris’s Identity
New York, July 19, 2019 — The National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) applauds both the Democratic Party’s presidential candidates and the more than 100 elected representatives in both the US House and the Senate who are now on record in support of the HR-40 legislation being championed by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas.
“These are two very significant steps forward in the emerging global reparations movement, and we are delighted that the US Congressional leadership on the reparations issue is in the capable hands of Congresswoman Jackson Lee,” said Dr. Ron Daniels, Convener of NAARC, a National Commission of prominent African American leaders in the fields of law, economics, health, religion, labor, community advocacy and business development.
Also, in recent weeks NAARC Commissioners have noticed that various spokespersons associated with a newly-formed group have publicized the false notion that African-descended immigrants and their descendants in the United States (from the Caribbean or Africa) would be ineligible for participation in any future reparatory justice settlements worked out in the United States. Such settlements would be negotiated with federal and local governments and with capitalist corporations that profited from the domestic and international slave trade and the practices of legal slavery.
This narrow ideological position certainly could be used to create divisions among African-descended people who were brought to the “New World” and oppressed by the system of racial slavery. According to this ill-conceived criteria, prominent African American figures like Marcus Garvey, Stokely Carmichael (aka Kwame Ture), Min. Louis Farrakhan, Rep. Shirley Chisholm, Malcolm X’s mother and many more would not qualify for reparations.
This is an ideological formulation that aligns itself with well-known right-wing opposition to “immigrants” and immigration in the United States and misses the moral issues involved and the transnational white supremacist superstructure to be challenged. Unfortunately, it has been used to support the specious charge that California Senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris is not an “African American” because of her Jamaican and East Indian heritage.
When asked, Senator Harris has been quoted declaring, “I am an African American.” Her parents are Jamaican and East Indian, and Senator Harris was born in Oakland, California and raised as an African American girl.
“In NAARC’s view, the African cultural heritage and the common historical experience of racialized oppression form the basis for transnational solidarity on the subject of reparatory justice. Moreover, the reparatory justice project has been in existence in the USA since at least the 1880s and has been inclusive of African-descended people throughout the Americas and globally,” said V.P. Franklin, Editor of the Journal of African American History and a NAARC Commissioner.
Currently, this international initiative is pursued by the Caribbean Community of Nations’ (CARICOM) Reparations Commission, the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC), the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) (ncobra.org), the Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW), the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, and numerous grassroots reparations organizations in the United States, Africa, the United Kingdom, and throughout Europe.
In their petitioning, advocating, protesting and mobilizing, African-descended peoples have come to recognize the strength in collectively organizing reparatory justice campaigns. CARICOM’s Ten-Point Plan for Caribbean Development, NAARC’s Preliminary 10-point program and similar reparatory justice action programs are evolving in North and South America, Africa and Europe, all of which emphasize the need to address the economic and financial disparities that exist today between African-descended and European-descended people as a painful living legacy of African enslavement in the Americas.
Today, we are in the middle of the UN’s International Decade for People of African Descent, a global platform that affirms the shared history and contemporary reality of black people throughout the Americas and the world. The utterly immoral enterprise of chattel slavery in the United States and in other countries throughout the Americas is the one and the same white supremacist system of super-exploitation and massive theft of our ancestors’ productive labor, that have left us with deepening economic disparities, a huge racial wealth gap, mass incarceration, and various public health crises in black communities and black countries spanning the continents of our world.
“Let us never forget that the Atlantic slave trade has been declared by the United Nations to be a crime against humanity and, as such, there is no statute of limitations that can be evoked by the perpetrators of this monstrous crime to escape responsibility,” said Dr. Julianne Malveaux, political economist, President Emerita of Bennett College for Women and NAARC Commissioner. “America owes the sons and daughters of Africa in America, whatever their origins, an enormous debt which must be paid if the country is to ever heal from the original sin of enslavement. The enactment of HR-40, the bill to study reparations proposals for African Americans, is an important step in this essential process. “