The Congressional Black Caucus Needs to Pass a Reparations Bill ...
... before Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Screws It Up
by Dr. G.S. Potter | Contributor’s Composition | @doc_strategy
While it went largely unnoticed by the mainstream media last week, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez decided that Reparations aren’t just for Black people anymore.
In fact, Reparations doesn’t even have anything to do with slavery, according to the self-proclaimed savior of the left. In what can be described as some of the stupidest bullshit ever spoken, Ocasio-Cortez explained in an interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates:
“People think reparations is reparations for slavery, but really, economically speaking, reparations are for the damage done by the New Deal and redlining because that is where we saw a compounding of the existing inequity from the legacy of slavery, where we drew red lines around black communities. We said white communities will get home loans and they will get access to the basic bedrock of wealth in America and this will be your heirloom and we gave white America the heirloom that appreciated overtime — that people still benefit from today and we did not give to African-American and Mexican communities, Puerto Rican communities.”
First of all: everyone is on stolen indigenous land. Second of all, Reparations has everything to do with slavery and nothing at all to do with the Green New Deal. Third — reparations are for Black people.
Reparations are for Black people.
Reparations are for Black people.
Black people. Reparations.
General Sherman & The Reparations Back Story
You have to harbor some seriously skewed intentions if you’re trying to co-opt the Reparations movement for your own non-Black political agenda. Make that a double if you’re trying to rewrite slavery out of the equation altogether.
And at the core — AOC’s intentions are not good. In fact, they aren’t even her own. You can read more about that HERE, but let’s stay on the topic : Reparations. Which are for Black people. And also, are inseparable from slavery. Literally.
Reparations was born out of the Civil War and brought into legislative reality by General William Tecumseh Sherman himself. In one of the boldest and most decisive strategic maneuvers of the Civil War, General Sherman forced an end to a stalemate with the Confederate forces by launching a scorched earth offensive against them in Georgia.
Sherman believed — and correctly so — that the Confederacy would not fall unless their infrastructure, supply chains, economic capabilities, and morale were completely broken. Atlanta was chosen as a target because of it’s location in the South (forcing the Confederacy to focus troops away from Virginia in the North) and because it was an important industrial and transport hub for the Confederate Army. After successfully taking control of Atlanta, Sherman began his historical March to the Sea.
This march began as one of the most ambitious strategic moves of the Civil War, and it would go on to be remembered as one of the most important campaigns in military history. It ended by breaking the back of the Confederate Army and pushing the South to the brink of surrender.
The scorched earth/total warfare approach taken by Sherman was risky not only because it was launched in the heart of Confederate territory, but because his plan eliminated the use of traditional military supply chains. Instead of relying on regular modes of resource distribution, Sherman’s strategy relied on his troops’ ability to forage and pillage the Confederacy for supplies along the way.
General Sherman used livestock and agricultural data gathered from the 1860 census to map his route from Atlanta to Savannah. This gave the Union soldiers opportunities to replenish their stocks while simultaneously making it difficult for the Confederacy to predict their next move. As the Union troops foraged and burned their way through Georgia, they decimated railroads, telegraph lines, bridges and roads while confiscating land, horses, livestock, guns, and supplies. They were also able to free slaves from their captives. Many of these freedmen joined the ranks of Sherman’s forces fighting both for their freedom and against the Confederate army.
In a dual effort to provide for the newly freed black folks while simultaneously breaking up and redistributing Confederate land and holdings, General Sherman produced what is known as Special Field Orders №15. This order took a slice of formerly Confederate land that stretched Florida to South Carolina and redistributed it to newly freed Black families in 40-acre parcels.
Approved by President Abraham Lincoln, Sherman’s Order is where the promise of 40 acres and a mule first originated. This is where the promise of Reparations for slavery originated. In the harshest battles of the Civil War. With Black people. Black people that risked their lives to secure freedom. During the Civil War.
Reparations: Yes, It Is Very Much A Black Thing
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s revisionist history lesson is a slap in the face to the lives and deaths of the Black elders and ancestors that built this nation with their own blood and bones. It is spit on the ground that Black men and women still fight to live and grow on today. It is a weak attempt to co-opt the struggle of generations of Black families in efforts to promote her own bullshit green agenda. The attempted co-optation of the Reparations movement is bigoted, historically revisionist, and degrading to the men and women leading the Black community today. It should not be tolerated.
Reparations is a Black thing. Not a Brown thing. Not a Green thing. Not a Blue thing. A Black thing. And the Black community would be served well by reminding the Justice Democrats just whose toes and efforts they are stepping on.
While Ocasio-Cortez would like to reinvent Reparations, remove the battles fought for and against it by generations of Black Americans, and take credit for it herself — many of her colleagues and predecessors in Congress have put their own careers on the line in efforts to ensure the federal government lives up to the promises it has made to black families and communities. Most notably, it was former Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) who introduced legislation to Congress that would fund a Commission to study proposals for reparations every single year since 1989 in the form of HR 40.
HR 40, also known as the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, calls for research into the economic and social impacts and remedies that reparations could provide. It’s stated purpose is:
“To address the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.”
And, still, it stalled in Congress every single time.
But times are changing. Black representation in Congress is expanding. The Black vote is inseparable from Democratic success at the polls. And the public is beginning to understand that it is political will and strategic efficacy that gets legislation passed or denied — not popularity or markers for right and wrong. Now is the perfect time to re-brand the push for Reparations and demand more than just a commission — before people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez try to wield the power of the dialogue for themselves.
Now is the perfect time to outline a process to take legislative action on Reparations. Enough studies have been done already. The moral arguments have all been presented. Now is the time to take clear and concerted legislative action.
The Present Case For Reparations
No one formed an exploratory commission when the GOP gave $1 trillion in tax cuts to the wealthiest (and Whitest) among us. No one explores the benefits of giving middle class White business owners grants and loans and tax breaks that have amounted to far more over the years. And no one does research when White folks want to give subsidies to White property owners.
When White people want money, they draw up legislation and they pass it. Pure and simple. And just as importantly, they have passed reparations before. Just not for Black folks.
In 1988, Republican President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act giving over 100,000 Japanese individuals $20,000 each as compensation for time served and land lost during the Internment. If we adjusted that for inflation, today that would amount to $41,440.
With 42 million black folks in the United States, it would take approximately $1.74 trillion to give every Black man, woman, and child a check for $41,440. That’s not much more than the Trump Administration gave the wealthiest Americans in the nation just for existing. And it’s a lot less than the total wealth the American people have built off of the land, wealth, and opportunities that slavery provided them. (For a list of companies that benefited directly form slavery that still operate today, click HERE).
Upper class Americans (the overwhelming majority of whom are white) have hoarded $100 trillion in personal wealth. $40 trillion of that is kept by just the top 1 percent of the population. They could pay for Reparations a few times over without even breaking a sweat on chemically peeled and botoxed brows.
In fact, it would only take a one-time tax of 4.5 percent on the wealth of the richest 1 percent of Americans to accumulate the $1.75 trillion necessary to give every last Black man, woman, and child a check for just under $42,000 apiece. There would even be enough left over to administrate the program and provide financial counseling and support services.
But this is possible only if Reparations remains in the history and hands of Black Americans. This is possible only if the Congressional Black Caucus would bring the battle for Reparations to the forefront of the Black agenda and builds a strategic agenda around it. This is only possible if the black community claims the Reparations movement for itself and organizes to make sure the bill is signed into law.
Reparations is possible if we fight for it. It is not possible if we let co-optive politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rewrite the history of Reparations in such a way that slavery and Black people are written out of it. Reparations is for Black people. And it’s time they got their checks.