Structural Change Is Our Liberty. Reparations Are Our Justice.
We have the power to instill pivotal change that will finally relieve the damage of our history, reduce our present harms and recreate a just future for the generations to come.
July 08, 2021 at 2:00 pm
Opinions are the writer’s own and not those of Blavity's.
As the cookout leftovers are reheated, everyone returns from their long-weekend plans and sentiments of “freedom” and “justice” still ring in our ears from another July Fourth, it marks another year Black people are excluded from full liberty as Americans. After more than a year of mainstream conversations about how to build real racial justice solutions, the great movement for national equity can’t be put on pause simply to uplift the dark history of our nation, flag and tradition.
The short answer for true liberty and justice for all: reparations.
Police violence and hyper-surveillance continue to constrict the freedom of Black communities. Impending student loan forbearance remains as an impediment specifically to Black borrowers while elected officials continue to postpone any solutions. The pandemic has revealed the detrimental failings of our public health system, the economic reliance of the United States’ economy on Black workers and the difficulties in rebuilding Black communities in a post-pandemic nation. If Black lives and livelihoods continue to be threatened by white supremacist institutions, there is little liberty and justice for us all. Even on the anniversary of our 14th Amendment, guaranteeing citizenship and “equal protection under the law” for all people naturalized or born in the United States, the disparities that remain today are impossible to ignore.
Together we can reimagine justice and ensure Black people see the freedom that this holiday celebrates.
Centering reparations in our efforts for equitable solutions is our greatest hope for delivering justice where it is needed the most. These goals are attainable and already in the works — survivors of the Tulsa massacre receiving long-overdue gifts on the centennial of the attack, banks facing demands for accountability in the history of racist credit lending and stimulus relief for Black farmers who lost land from federal dispossession. The power to reimagine our institutions, restore our communities and ensure our political power are in our grasp and provided through reparations. If we truly want a nation extending liberty and justice but have acknowledged the gaps in who these liberties are extended to, reparations are the missing pieces of the equation for a truly just and equitable nation.
Our best tool in enacting reparations is House Resolution 40, or the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act. This commission will formally investigate the role of the government in supporting slavery, the ways in which discrimination impacted Black people and our descendants after slavery legally ended, and the remaining systemic inequities placed on Black communities and society as a whole. Identifying this history will be so important in finally providing the relief necessary to bridge the gap in these blatant injustices.
Time is running out to get H.R. 40 to an immediate vote and implemented in this legislative session. Join millions of people across the country in demanding our elected officials deliver justice owed to the Black communities that goes beyond the 2020 Presidential Election outcome or the economic survival of the nation. Black people have built this nation and it is past due we receive proper compensation. Anything short of comprehensive and effective reparative justice would only allow such inequities to continue.
Structural change is our liberty. Reparations are our justice. We cannot wait another Fourth of July to once again allow our nation to ignore the glaring gaps in “liberty and justice for all.” We have the power to instill pivotal change that will finally relieve the damage of our history, reduce our present harms and recreate a just future for the generations to come.