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The Southern Truth: California Reparations Bills are Nothing But Philanthropic Sharecropping Without Ownership for Black People

A Black History Memory: Gahisi Sowande, a native Angeleno and community activist, who survived Pelican Bay Shu Housing Unit (SHU), only to come home in South Central and find himself fighting against his own in leadership for contracting job opportunities. Sowande actively engaged in protest against the status quo who he labeled as sell-outs. Photo by Gloria Zuurveen

By Gloria Zuurveen, Editor-in-Chief

First of all, let me acknowledge the  beginning of “Black History Month.” On this pivotal occasion, where black people are finally being recognized as a people with relevance, it seems only fitting to address the topic of reparations. Reparations, a concept that aims to repair the   damage caused by the vile and vicious colonization of innocent Black people, holds great significance. It is a chance to acknowledge the pain and suffering endured by generations of Black individuals, including my own Big Mama, who was born in 1890 and lived until 1984, yet rarely experienced unfeigned freedom with Jim Crow at her door in Mississippi. Like many others, she simply wanted to be with her family and live peaceably but it didn’t happen. Why?

Why are the messages about reparations which are so vague and unclear especially when it comes to Black people remedy? Why are the associates who are appointed to the task so vehemently opposed to paying us for the blatant wrongs in the past? Isn’t that the most righteous way to live in a capitalistic, consumer-driven world where other ethnic groups have been amply satisfied? Black people deserve to have and to hold assets just like every other woman, girl, boy, and man in their hands. The value of cash, be it the Fiat or Bitcoin, should be accessible to us as well. It is time for Blacks to redeem their reparations because it is only fair. In the paraphrased words of the prophet Amos and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Justice should fall down like waters, and righteousness should flow like a mighty stream.” Look at the Japanese in America and the Jewish people from Germany. These communities have received reparations for the injustices inflicted upon them, yet here we are, still waiting for our rightful compensation. Why should Black Californians be left behind without the proper restitution? We cannot accept a system that perpetuates the underlining consumer “Bananza” where big corporations and philanthropists salivate over the potential profits, while Black people continue to suffer. It is disheartening to witness the ongoing gentrification of Black wealth, while other communities thrive. The proposed bills focusing on reparations in California seem to enhance the pockets of the few, rather than benefiting the many. The bureaucracy surrounding these bills only slows down the process, leaving many Black businesses without the aid they desperately need. By the time Black people receive any compensation, it may be too late for those who have suffered the most.

Dr. Gloria Zuurveen standing at the site where renown crusading journalist, Ida B. Wells, against lynching, friends were lynched, on the site marked, for competing in business.

Amidst all the discussions about reparations, there seems to be a lack of clarity and specificity, especially when it comes to reparations for Black people. Why is this? Why are the individuals appointed to address this issue vehemently opposed to providing compensation for the blatant wrongs committed against us? In a capitalistic and consumer-driven world, where others have been adequately compensated, why are Black people being left behind? Look at the examples of the Japanese in America and the Jewish people from Germany. In both cases, reparations were provided, yet here we are being judged as shiftless and lazy due to past injustices. It is disheartening to witness our elected officials, who were meant to serve us, serving everyone but us.

According to the San Francisco Standard, the proposed bills on reparations in California appears to be nothing more than philanthropic sharecropping. It promises to enhance the pockets and bills of those who will exploit the resources these bills discusses. How many Black businesses will truly benefit when bureaucracy slows down the process? By the time Black people see any compensation, most of us may not even be alive. Instead, the philanthropic sharecroppers will continue to be the owners of what should rightfully be ours. The current focus on reparations involves a lot of vacillation and the creation of a consumer base, rather than providing the sole compensation for the wrongs committed against Black people. The introduced proposals mention potential compensation for property seized from Black owners but fail to call for widespread direct cash payments to the descendants of enslaved Black people. This is a shame, and those in charge are to blame. They have played a risky game, and the people will lose if we continue to let them treat us as fools. As someone who has experienced the hardships of being a sharecropper’s granddaughter in Mississippi, I can attest to the deep-seated frustration caused by unfair practices. When I worked in the cotton fields, earning just two dollars a day, minus the cost of a Ne Hi peach soda and some hoghead cheese and Saltine crackers, I realized just how unjust the system was. Mr. Gilmore had Black people locked up in Jim Crow, and it was also his store. After working all day, I was left with a mere dollar and fifty cents for a day’s worth of backbreaking labor.  These current bills on reparations, rather than repairing the damage, will only set Black people back further. It is unjust and unfair. We must say no to these bills and demand a solution that truly addresses the needs and rights of the Black people. It is time for reparations to be about the people, not just a shallow political performance. Our voices must be heard, and our demands for justice and true reparations should not be compromised.

The Southern Truth


1 Comment

  1. DR MARCIA ANN MIMS COPPERTINO on February 3, 2024 at 6:25 pm

    We must begin to look at the world for what is….an unsafe place and a force against all forms of righteousness. Blacks are still on the begging end, wanting something for nothing…time is out for this foolishness!

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