Imperialism, Black Peril, and Reparations

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God on Wall Street

Rev. Curtis O. Robinson, Sr.

As each day goes by, it seems like the discussion about reparations for African Americans is as isolated today, as it was in 1989.

In an article from the chicagoreader.com entitled, “It’s Finally Time to Discuss Reparations for African Americans,” Steve Bogira said, “In January 1989, John Conyers Jr., a Democratic congressman from Michigan, introduced H.R. 40, a bill concerning reparations for African-Americans. Conyers chose the number 40 as a reminder of an earlier reparations—the 40 acres of coastal land that General William T. Sherman ordered given per family of freed slaves in Georgia and South Carolina in January 1865….President Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson, evicted the former slaves from the land in the fall of 1865.”

The legal proposition to lay lawyers would be, if it was legal before, simply reverse what was previously overturned. The United States under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln seemed to be advancing into a more real and civilized country. Would the utopian “beloved community,” become a reality? Not under the imperialist watch of Lincoln’s successor.

In his book, “The Souls of White Folk; White Settlers in Kenya, 1900s-1920s,” Brett L. Shadle quoted J.M. Kariuki, an anti-colonialist who said, “Quick to anger, inhospitable, aloof, boorish, and insensitive, they often behaved as if God had created Kenya and us for their use.”

And it is this imperialist attitude that continues to stall the discussion of reparations for African Americans in U.S. legislative hallways. Reparations is a reality because it was a crime against humanity.

Can we say that lynchings were just a figment of someone’s imagination? When Billie Holiday sang “Strange Fruit,” it was not a clandestine melody of pomp and circumstance. But rather is was a song about smelly cultural despotism, well recorded in America’s journals and history of racism.

The International Criminal Court is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague, Netherlands. The ICC has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression.

Article 7 defines crimes against humanity as acts “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack.”

The article lists 16 such acts as individual crimes. Fifteen out of 16 of those crimes describe exactly what happened to Africans as they crossed the Atlantic Ocean and upon landing in America.

If reparations is to come to pass, white privilege must be eliminated, and Black peril must cease.

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