Reparations: Through my Black Eyes to Your White Minds
By James Varner
First of all, let’s get this black and white thing straight. You’re not white, you’re pink. I’m not black, I’m brown, or some of us are what we call high yellah, ’cause your pink ancestors raped my brown sistahs at will producing the high yellah people. High yellahs were caught in a no man’s land, not belonging to either clan. They were rejected by both blacks and whites. But for the most part, they were treated like they were black. But a few of them were so pink, that their straight hair allowed them to cross over into the white man’s kingdom. In that kingdom, enjoying white privilege, they never looked back. They pretended their black mammies, brothers and sistahs never existed. Like they were the result of some miracle created out of thin air.
But we were talking about reparations viewed through my black eyes. A general definition for reparations is: the act of making amends, satisfaction for wrongs of injury; the payment of money for damages that have been done as one way of making amends. In this case, reparations for African Americans, many people say, we have to decide on an amount of payment and from whom? We also must decide to whom the payments will be made. In both cases, we must decide over what period of time the payments will be made and received. There is certainly no easy way to deal with these aspects of the issue.
Think for a moment. There is not enough gold in Fort Knox to pay for the wrongs done to millions of my people for centuries, taken from Africa against their will, brought to these shores, whipped, lynched, and worked to death. America got centuries of free labor. America never paid one thin dime, let alone “20 acres and a mule.” America used the cruelest most inhumane system of slavery the world has ever known to build the richest most powerful nation in the world. America, the land of the free, the home of the brave, but at what cost in human life, pain, cruel inhumane treatment, the effects of which are still being felt today? Does America owe a debt to black Americans, the descendants of African slaves: You bet! America owes a huge debt.
We can look at reparations in a slightly different way, but with the same results. Let’s say America makes restitution for its debt to all black Americans for slavery, which still affects all black Americans in negative ways today. Restitution facts:*
1. In the year 1865, the actions of President Andrew Johnson, the United States Congress, and Army General William Sherman acknowledged and accepted that a debt was due and payable for slavery.
2. Over the years, [some] Indian Nations have received millions of dollars, autonomy, and continuing services as restitution for what America took from them. In 1971 the Alaskan Native Claims Settlement Act awarded restitution of more than 33 million acres and almost a billion dollars to indigenous Alaskans. In 1988, the Civil Liberties Act formally apologized and paid restitution of more than a billion dollars to the Japanese Americans forced into prison camps during World War II.
3. Black America has received nothing but a hard way to go!
4. The time to settle this account is NOW!
5. Slavery affected all American Blacks…so should restitution!
6. Restitution can and should be fair, easy to implement, and not cost the United States treasury one dime. This can be done by simply refunding all state and federal income taxes to each black citizen once a year for a specified number of years.
This method of restitution requires the creation of only one new tax form: the 1040BR — “BR” meaning “Black Restitution.” Nothing else within the system needs to change. The government continues to collect and use the money all year. At year-end, before April 15th, all black citizens who file the 1040BR, their W-2s, and proof of race, should receive all the income tax they paid back in one check.
Restitution by Total Income Tax Relief by Rebate is a giant window of opportunity for all Black Americans. All income levels will benefit proportionally to their income.
Because restitution is a message rather than a product, it will require the volunteered resources of many to excite the roar of the masses necessary to win this fight. The payoff will be the victory we call can share.
WE CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN!