Showing posts with label Reparations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reparations. Show all posts

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Detroit Reparations Task Force hears public proposals during first meeting

BY:  - APRIL 14, 2023

The Detroit City Council Reparations Task Force heard ideas from the public during its first meeting on Thursday in downtown Detroit. 

They included remedies designed to address home mortgage foreclosure, various tax credits, repaying city retirees who took pension losses during the city’s 2013 bankruptcy process, as well as direct cash payments to African American city residents. 

“Black folks in Detroit need to be compensated,” Cecily McClellan, a retired city of Detroit employee told the task force. 

Eighty percent of Detroit voters approved a 2021 measure that called for the creation of a task force to study and address the issue of reparations. Detroit is 77% African American. The 13-member task force was appointed by the Detroit City Council.  The task force has been allotted $350,000 for administrative operations for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1. 

Keith Williams, who serves as both Michigan Democratic Party Black Caucus chair and Reparations Task Force co-chair, said he wants to see a reparations effort that addresses Black people who lost residential and commercial property in the Motor City’s Black Bottom community several decades ago.

In the early 1950s, an all-white Detroit city government seized private property in a lower east side neighborhood in the name of urban renewal. 

“I feel that we must acquire the land in these backward sections, that we must remove the buildings there from and sell the property back to private individuals for development,” then-Detroit Mayor Albert Cobo said in January 1950.

The effort displaced Black city residents, many of whom were poor. Black Bottom was replaced with Lafayette Park, a middle-class and largely white residential district, according to 1970 U.S. Census data.

Williams, a former Black Bottom resident, believes that Black descendants should receive government economic reciprocity.

“That should be part of the repair,” said Williams. 

Detroit isn’t the only city to consider reparations. In Evanston, Ill., a Chicago suburb, elected officials approved a 2019 resolution to create a reparations funding stream. Last year, 16 Evanston residents were selected to receive $25,000 each in reparations to address harms from slavery to discriminatory housing policies.

Meanwhile, Detroiters’ perceptions of the racial wealth gap, the legacy of slavery and other forms of racial inequity are strongly connected to their support for reparations and policies that address racial inequity, according to a 2022 study by the University of Michigan.

Overall, 63% of Detroit residents support some form of reparations, and 70% say addressing racial inequality should be a high policy priority for elected officials. 

The analysis of survey findings emanates from the U of M’s Detroit Metro Area Communities Study and the Center for Racial Justice, with support from Poverty Solutions.

“There is a strong link between awareness of racial inequality and support for reparative policies,” said Erykah Benson, a U of M doctoral student in sociology and research fellow at the Center for Racial Justice, who analyzed the survey results. “We’re in a moment of national debate about how to think about, teach and resolve historical and contemporary injustices. How we collectively remember and understand our history shapes how we think about appropriate solutions for generational and ongoing injustices.”

Among the 73% of Detroiters who believe the average Black person is worse off than the average white person in terms of income and wealth, 71% support reparations and 75% say policies that address racial inequality should be a high priority. Among the 14% of Detroiters who believe the average Black person is equally well off as the average white person, 38% support reparations.

The survey was fielded between June 16 and Aug. 26, 2022, and captures the views of a representative sample of 2,339 Detroit residents. Results were weighted to reflect the population of the city of Detroit.

The Detroit City Council Reparations Task Force will provide recommended action steps to the City Council in no later than 18 months.  

This article originally appeared at Michigan Advance on April 14th, 2023.  

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Saturday, September 10, 2022

After Queen's Death, Victims of British Imperialism Share Why 'We Will Not Mourn'

"This is Queen Elizabeth's legacy. A legacy of colonial violence and plunder. A legacy of racial segregation and institutionalized racism."
Brett Wilkins

photo credit: Bill Smith
As millions of Britons and admirers the world over mourned Queen Elizabeth II's death Thursday, others—especially in nations formerly colonized by the British Empire—voiced reminders of the "horrendous cruelties" perpetrated against them during the monarch's reign.

"We do not mourn the death of Elizabeth, because to us her death is a reminder of a very tragic period in this country and Africa's history," declared Julius Malema, head of the left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters party in South Africa.

"Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952, reigning for 70 years as a head of an institution built up, sustained, and living off a brutal legacy of dehumanization of millions of people across the world," he continued. "During her 70-year reign as queen, she never once acknowledged the atrocities that her family inflicted on native people that Britain invaded across the world," Malema noted. "She willingly benefited from the wealth that was attained from the exploitation and murder of millions of people across the world."

"The British royal family stands on the shoulders of millions of slaves who were shipped away from the continent to serve the interests of racist white capital accumulation, at the center of which lies the British royal family," Malema added.

Larry Madowo, a CNN International correspondent from Kenya, said during a Thursday broadcast that "the fairytale is that Queen Elizabeth went up the treetops here in Kenya a princess and came down a queen because it's when she was here in Kenya that she learned that her dad had died and she was to be the queen."

"But that also was the start of the eight years after that, that the... British colonial government cracked down brutally on the Mau Mau rebellion against the colonial administration," he continued. "They herded more than a million people into concentration camps, where they were tortured and dehumanized."

In addition to rampant torture—including the systemic castration of suspected rebels and sympathizers, often with pliers—British forces and their local allies massacred unarmed civilians, disappeared their children, sadistically raped women, and clubbed prisoners to death.

"And so," added Madowo, "across the African continent, there have been people who are saying, 'I will not mourn for Queen Elizabeth, because my ancestors suffered great atrocities under her people that she never fully acknowledged that."

Indeed, instead of apologizing for its crimes and compensating its victims, the British government launched Operation Legacy, a massive effort to erase evidence of colonial crimes during the period of rapid decolonization in the 1950s-'70s.

"If the queen had apologized for slavery, colonialism, and neocolonialism and urged the Crown to offer reparations for the millions of lives taken in her/their names, then perhaps I would do the human thing and feel bad," tweeted Cornell University professor Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ. "As a Kenyan, I feel nothing. This theater is absurd."

Aldani Marki, an activist with the Organization of Solidarity with the Yemeni Struggle, asserted that "Queen Elizabeth is a colonizer and has blood on her hands."

"In 1963 the Yemeni people rebelled against British colonialism. In turn the Queen ordered her troops to violently suppress any and all dissent as fiercely as possible," he tweeted. "The main punitive measure of Queen Elizabeth's Aden colony was forced deportations of native Yemenis into Yemen's desert heartland."

"This is Queen Elizabeth's legacy," Marki continued. "A legacy of colonial violence and plunder. A legacy of racial segregation and institutionalized racism."

"The queen's England is today waging another war against Yemen together with the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and the UAE," he added.

Melissa Murray, a Jamaican-American professor at New York University School of Law, said that the queen's death "will accelerate debates about colonialism, reparations, and the future of the Commonwealth" as "the residue of colonialism shadows day-to-day life in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean."

Numerous observers noted how the British Empire plundered around $45 trillion from India over two centuries of colonialism that resulted in millions of deaths, and how the Kohinoor—one of the largest cut diamonds in the world, with an estimated value of $200 million—was stolen from India to be set in the queen mother's crown.

"Why are Indians mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II?" asked Indian economist Manisha Kadyan on Twitter. "Her legacy is colonialism, slavery, racism, loot, and plundering. Despite having chances, she never apologized for [the] bloody history of her family. She reduced everything to a 'difficult past episode' on her visit to India. Evil."

An Indian historian tweeted, "there are only 22 countries that Britain never invaded throughout history."

"British ships transported a total of three million Africans to the New World as slaves," he wrote. "An empire that brought misery and famine to Asia and Africa. No tears for the queen. No tears for the British monarchy."

Negative reaction to the queen's passing was not limited to the Global South. Despite the historic reconciliation between Ireland and Britain this century, there were celebrations in Dublin—as a crowd singing "Lizzie's in a Box" at a Celtic FC football match attests—and among the Irish diaspora.

"I'm Irish," tweeted MSNBC contributor Katelyn Burns, "hating the queen is a family matter."

Welsh leftists got in on the action too. The Welsh Underground Network tweeted a litany of reasons why "we will not mourn."

"We will not mourn for royals who oversaw the protection of known child molesters in the family," the group said.

"We will not mourn for royals who oversaw the active destruction of the Welsh language, and the Welsh culture," the separatists added.

Summing up the sentiments of many denizens of the Global South and decolonization defenders worldwide, Assal Rad, research director at the National Iranian American Council, tweeted, "If you have more sympathy for colonizers and oppressors than the people they oppress, you may need to evaluate your priorities."

This article originally appeared at Originally published on September 9th 2022. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. 

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Advancing Malcolm's work...

Typically, when there are ceremonies honoring Malcolm X, there are subtle reminders about Malcolm X as an iconized mythical figure.  Dr. Peniel Joseph, Professor of History at Tufts University, recently wrote: “In death, Malcolm became larger than he had been in life. Black radicals embraced him as the revolutionary avatar of black liberation in America and around the world. His posthumously published autobiography became a best-seller, and his legacy inspired numerous books, a U.S. postage stamp, a major motion picture and a Malcolm X revival during the early 1990s,” Dr. Peniel continues, “In 2014 Malcolm X matters now more than ever. His political integrity and personal sincerity set a high bar for all future black leaders. His identification with, and love for, the black working class set an enduring standard. Malcolm didn’t just love black people—he respected them enough to challenge them, offering stinging criticism in some instances and gentle prodding in others.”

Let’s grapple with the first sentence for a moment…Malcolm became larger than he had been in life – there may be good reason for this. For example, the influence that Malcolm's work had, not only on the formation of Black Power and Black Liberation movements but on the civil rights movement as well. Organizations such as the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Congress of Racial Equality (CORE),  the Black Panthers, Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), and the Republic of New Afrika to name a few were all inspired and shaped by Malcolm's Black Nationalism. 

When you can begin to understand the pivotal role these movements, organizations and individuals had in carrying this struggle forward – then you can begin to understand exactly what Malcolm X meant to so many who advanced and carried his work forward.  That would begin to explain why the Brother Minister grew larger in death.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Blackboard Weekly Report - 4/21/14

  • Zimbabwe celebrated the 34th anniversary of their independence. See here for the press statement released by Secretary of State John Kerry and a brief summary of their history here from the Government of Zimbabwe.  
  • Professor Hilary Beckles, Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission, is urging young people across the Caribbean to play a role in their reparation struggle. The Jamaican Observer reported Prof. Beckles comments during a lecture: "There are many people in the world who believe that all they have to do is sit quiet and allow the older leaders of this campaign to pass away," he said. "You are the descendants of those who have survived and that gives you, the younger generation, a special responsibility to honour this history."
 White House
  • President Obama: The President held a press conference last week, responding to questions about the Affordable Care Act and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.   During the press conference, President Obama tells Democrats not to run from health care issue with 2014 mid-term elections approaching. “I think the Democrats should forcefully defend and be proud of the fact that millions of people (have insurance)…I don't think we should apologize for it. I don't think we should be defensive about it…” 
  • Affordable Care Act Update:  The White House announces 8 million have signed up for health insurance via the market exchanges.   
  • Ukraine Crisis Update:  The Guardian reports that US secretary of state John Kerry urged Russia on Monday to meet Ukraine halfway in trying to defuse the crisis. See coverage of the ongoing Ukraine crisis by CNN, The Guardian, and the BBC.
  • Justice Department:  Attorney General Holder announced the Justice Department’s initiative to reduce sentencing disparities for drug offenders in the federal prison system by expanding the criteria for clemency.  “The White House has indicated it wants to consider additional clemency applications, to restore a degree of justice, fairness, and proportionality for deserving individuals who do not pose a threat to public safety.  The Justice Department is committed to recommending as many qualified applicants as possible for reduced sentences.  
  • First Lady: The Washington Post reports that last Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama  and entertainer Bow Wow joined 37 students from Chicago public high schools for a tour of Howard University.  But the First Lady’s scheduled graduation address in Kansas is causing a stir   - Parents and students alike have expressed anguish that the first lady’s speech and limited seating for families detract from a day that should center on the graduating students and their loved ones.
  • Restoring the right for convicted felons to vote appeared in Virginia and in Iowa. In Virginia, the Governor has signed an executive order enabling an easier process to gain voting rights; drug offenses will no longer be on the list of crimes that need a waiting period, and the waiting period for violent offenders will decrease from 5 years to 3 year.  
  • Meanwhile in Iowa, felons will continue to be disqualified despite a recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling, 5-1 that some felonies may not rise to the level of barring voting rights.
  • New York politico Basil Paterson passed away.  See obituary by Meyer, Suozzi, English and Klein – the firm Mr. Paterson joined in the early 1980’s. See additional coverage in the New York Amsterdam News.  
  • The New York Police Department (NYPD) had dismantled the unit that spied on Muslim communities. The ACLU noted that NYPD spied on their places of worship, and businesses they frequent – based on nothing but their religious beliefs and associations. For additional information see the ACLU’s fact sheet and the Associated Press investigation into NYPD intelligence.