America’s story, economics, institutional slavery, and the first Civil Rights act evolution is difficult to revisit. Racism seemed intractable. The majority of Americans polled, July 31, 2019 show, most do not agree with reparations. During the Civil War Abraham Lincoln’s executive branch of government used the Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves in 1863 as an incentive to end war against suceeding Confederate states. The war lasted two more years until 1865 where slavery was legally abolished through the 13thamendment of the constitution in January and ratified by all the states December 6, 1865. This war-ravaged nation declared full citizenship to former slaves by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1866 while federal troops were still throughout confederate territory. This period of Reconstruction gave former slaves access opportunity to move freely, buy land, build towns, businesses, and participate in the political system. This lasted for twelve years after the civil war to 1877. Once union troops withdrew from the south, terrorism directed at newly freed slaves, this country began to dismantle the rule of law and set in its place unchecked, unaccounted for, brazen disregard for human life through lynching, murder, harassment, cross burnings, town burnings, all designed to deny dignity and rights promised by the 13thamendment. The Supreme Court also failed to ensure implementation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, claiming inability to enforce it. ‘Rule of Law’ was no longer a guiding principle for all citizens.
This country established an agriculture society built on the economic engine of labor. Free slave labor required domination and control of human beings. The business of building a nation and its wealth based on the foundation of slavery put in play an unredeemable system of terrorism, torture, bondage, abuse, civil and human rights violations, rise of debt driven penal systems and institutional practices with legal policies to maintain it. The determination to ensure stability of labor over centuries started with indigenous native Americans, indentured servants, and finally dark-skinned people (Africans) from an agriculture culture became the primary source of free labor driving products to market for maximum profits and wealth. The method of building wealth using a race of people (as cargo) from another continent through enslavement eventually led to splitting the country’s economy between cotton production in south and distribution in the north.
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 ‘was the first United States federal law to define citizenship and affirm that all citizens are equally protected by the law’. It was time to heal a nation, but the civil war purpose for confederacy states was to maintain a slave economy. The effort to try to continue an unpaid labor economy shifted this country away from full citizenship of former slaves towards illegal debt penal system, civil rights violations unaccountable for so long that a racist society formed becoming entrenched and a part of everyday life from 1877 to 2019.
This unresolved issues sourrounding the grounding of our economic system on the labor of enslaved people and the years of abuse and resistance to full citizenship resulted in a glaring wealth divide that would take another hundred years to repair even if barriers were removed. Worst is that this treatment of former slaves is still in our nations DNA manifested across our culture without atonement or correction. Each generation that has felt the void of grace from this country’s lawlessness have off-springs that now see loud and clear are demanding we address these storied wrongs through all means necessary including reparations. This conversation has been there awhile is now elevated to Congressional discussions and a new movement for American Descendants of Slavery.
What is definition of reparations? ‘The making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged.’
Here in the states we have efforts to address reparations within the United States government. The H.R. 40 of 115thCongress (2017-2018) Commission to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans” ‘including a formal apology by the U.S. government “for the perpetuation of gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity on African slaves and their descendants.” (NPR June 19, 2019) This commission seeks to study the topic at the highest levels.
A new group within the community using the hashtag (#) ADOS or American Descendants of Slavery is a movement committed to reparations. On twitter @BreakingBrown, Yvette Carnell, an activist and spokesperson for American Descendants of Slavery puts out many ideas and very intelligent content with her co-founder Antonio Moore (@tonetalks). They offer well informed, thought provoking and challenging points of view that has attracted a large following. They critique 2020 candidates’ stance on reparation and what to do about it distinguishes themselves thereby drawing reactions ranging from dismissal, anxiety, anger to hardcore supporters. Yvette Carnell spends much of her time clarifying who #ADOS is and challenges those who would deny her voice and right to bring reparations into public discourse.
Yvette Carnell’s tweets capture the imagination of many young people who feel strongly about their past are demonstrative about change happening much sooner than later. The push for reparations as their focus brings a lot of passion and hostility as well as defensiveness for those who perceive them as splitting the African American vote. Yvette Carnell and co-founder Antonio Moore have set a ‘Black Agenda’ and a ‘Road to Reparations’ available on their website. The content is very informative and establishes a clear proposition that deserves the attention of Americans who understand they are descendants of slavery. We are a very distinct group lost in descriptive titles like minority.
The premise for this work for American Descendants of Slavery is ‘based on slave labor as foundation for economic freedom of white people’. Statistics offered show discrepancy between the resulting wealth gap that have occurred over many centuries. Given these points American Descendants of Slavery was the economic engine uncompensated and are still often viewed as an ‘abused underclass’. #ADOS brings forward interest in our story. It is an emotional challenge to think back over one’s life reflecting on the past, recognizing familiar experiences, and appreciating possibly being a statistic found on their website that reflect my existence as well as my family’s trials and tribulations.