(FinalCall.com) – “Who are the legitimate targets, dead and alive, of the reparations movement?” asked Bob Brown, a researcher at the Kwame Ture Work Study Institute. “How can we seriously talk about taking on multinational corporations and not be able to walk into a room and identify who did what?” he continued, speaking during the July 26 reparations meeting held in Chicago.
Called by Dr. Conrad Worrill, national chairman of the National Black United Front, and convened and hosted by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, the summit was a historic step towards forging unity within the movement and was attended by representatives of various umbrella religious and political organizations.
Along with these public figures sat unassuming grassroots organizers who have proven to be a pivotal force behind the scenes–such as Mr. Brown, who demonstrated in his presentation that research is a vital element in the movement. Family genealogies must be uncovered in order to identify accurately personal connections to slavery, but careful research allows for a proper determination of who has to pay reparations.
According to Mr. Brown, referencing figures from the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), this determination begins with the British monarchs who accumulated 28 percent of the wealth derived from the early trans-Atlantic slave trade. He also pointed to the first stages of the criminal enterprise of slavery with the Portuguese involvement in the sugar trade at Cape Verde in 1441.
“The sickness of the West can be traced to European greed,” explained Dr. Andrew Thompson of the Kemetic Institute, “and social, economic and cultural surgery is necessary to repair the damages.”
It is this multi-faceted repair that lies at the root of the movement of reparations, and the demand coming from within America echoes those who have suffered similarly in Africa and the Caribbean. In fact, the road to reparations involves the retracing of the collective footprints of suffering within the Diaspora.
Since the slave enterprise was based on an international network, it is critical that the call for reparations be heard on an international level, says Attorney Roger Wareham, who represents the lead New York plaintiff in a class action lawsuit filed against corporations that profited from the slave trade.
“As much as the United States wants to play like a lone ranger, they are affected by what goes on in the world. Although the United States is resisting it, someday soon, the United States is going to be held accountable within the international arena under international law for its crimes against humanity,” Atty. Wareham told The Final Call.
As the international secretariat for the December 12th Movement, Mr. Wareham explained that the group follows within strong adherence to a position raised by Malcolm X–that the issues of Black people must be brought to the international scene, because fighting for justice within U.S. courts is a no-win situation since the rules are set and changed to the benefit of those that oppress Black people.
“The international arena has a higher standard,” he continued, “It’s another way of forcing the issue of reparations and there are allies within the international arena who support what we do. Instead of becoming isolated, we can develop our natural allies, which are African countries and the African Diaspora. We all suffer from forced under-development and the beneficiaries of that are the same countries. So, therefore we have a commonality.”
This commonality, he said, was reflected in the unity that developed during the United Nations World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa, in 2000, where the December 12th Movement spearheaded the formation and participation of the Durban 400 as a non-governmental organization.
The group is now mobilizing for a follow-up rally at the United Nations on September 13, as a follow-up to the one held at the Capitol last year, under the “Millions for Reparations” banner. Organizers are looking to influence heads of state, who are sympathetic to the reparations call, that will be attending the session of the General Assembly scheduled to begin in September. The rally’s objective is also to have millions of people involved in the process of organizing, so that reparations can be on everybody’s mind, Atty. Wareham said.
“When we bemoan our restrictions on higher or quality education, when we look at the health problems we face, when we complain about the fact that we don’t have any Black-owned multimedia, reparations is a way to begin dealing with all of that,” he added. “We were collective victims of a collective injury and a collective crime, and we still are. Reparations is a collective response to the damage that we suffer.”
(For more information on how you can get involved in the Sept. 13 Millions for Reparations rally, call 718-398-1766; visit the web address www.millionsforreparations.com; or write to: Millions for Reparations, 456 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11216.)