Free the land! I'm happy to be here with you on this important day in the struggle for justice and self-determination for the descendants of African slavery.
A common response of working and middle class white people to the demand for reparations is "I didn't own slaves, I didn't benefit from slavery! My family has always worked hard." The truth is all of our european antecedents benefited. The profits that built the industries and railroads that our families came here to work for came from the profits of slave labor. The wealth that enabled the U.S. government to pay for a military to wage war against Native American Nations, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, in order to extend this name state from sea to sea, and beyond, came from profits and investments from slavery.
It's time that we white U.S citizens and residents who believe in economic and social justice and human rights begin to work as if our future and vision of liberation depended on reparations. They do.
Apologies are not enough. Promises to fight racism and police brutality and mass incarceration of African peoples are not enough. Protesting environmental racism is not enough. Only economic redress will set the stage for justice by enabling Black communities to build the social and political infrastructure necessary to develop equality and justice.
I believe that had the U.S. paid Vietnam reparations, as it should have done, Vietnam would be in a very different position today. But the U.S. embargoed Vietnam instead. Europe got back on its feet through the Marshall Plan, a form of collective reparations and mutual aid. Had reparations been paid at the end of the Civil War, where would this society be today? Not where it is now, governed by fear and military maneuvers. The south would be politically, economically and socially leading.
After all, it was Black reconstruction that opened public schools and hospitals for all working people, African or European. But that didn't happen and Black reconstruction was destroyed by nightriders and the U.S. government's complicity.
I think that had reparations been made we would be living on a continent of possibility. Peace and economic and social justice would be the agenda, not war and imprisonment and destruction of the planet's resources. Let us join in organizing to finance the future. Reparations is a giant step step towards the future.