American Descendants of Slavery — has been pushing for reparations since its founding by Yvette Carnell, a Howard graduate and host of the Breaking Brown political show, and Antonio Moore, a UCLA alumnus and attorney who hosts the weekly radio show Tonetalks.
ADOS “seeks to reclaim/restore the critical national character of the African American identity and experience, one grounded in our group’s unique lineage, and which is central to our continuing struggle for social and economic justice in the United States, to get reparations for Native Black people on the table and to move the issue forward,” according to the group’s website.
It is true that more and more politicians are talking about reparations, such as Shaniyat Chowdhury, a 28-year-old democratic socialist running for Congress in New York.
“It’s about more than a check,” Chowdhury said in a recent interview. “It’s about improving the quality of life for Black Americans. It’s about addressing the sins of this nation over 400 years.”
He and other politicians are urging a look at reparations to not only compensate the Black descendants of slavery for the atrocities of slavery but also for continued systematic racism.
Every year beginning in 1989, the late Rep. John Conyers, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, introduced a bill to study reparations. He vowed to “do so until it’s passed into law.” He kept his promise. Conyers resigned in 2017. He died in 2019.
In 2019, Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee reintroduced Conyers’ bill that would establish a commission to study the impact of slavery and make recommendations for its “apology and compensation.” Sen. Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
Also in 2019, on Juneteenth, an annual holiday commemorating the ending of slavery, a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee held a first-of-its-kind hearing on reparations.
Still, few political candidates have featured reparations front and center in their campaigns. “It was somewhat of a verboten topic for political figures in the past,” said William Darity, a wealth inequality expert and public policy professor at Duke University.
Darity wrote “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century.”
“There’s been a real fear that there could be a political penalty from the white electorate from any intimation that you might seriously consider (reparations,” Darity told the New York Times.
While reparations may not be the focus of campaign, candidates have been using the idea of reparations to interest young progressive voters. Progressive Democrat Charles Booker recently lost to DNC machine favorite Amy McGrath to challenge Sen.
Mitch McConnell for Senate in Kentucky. Booker mentioned reparations on his campaign website. Then there’s Jamaal Bowman, the Democratic nominee who won his race for New York’s 16th congressional district in the 2020 election. He said he believes in reparations.
According to the New York Times article, while “the political push has long come from veteran Black lawmakers, white candidates are discussing the issue of reparations too.” Sen. Ed Markey and Rep.
Joe Kennedy, both the Massachusetts Democrats, said they were open to the idea of reparations. Andrew Romanoff, a Democratic candidate for Senate in Colorado, announced that he supports reparations for both Native and Black Americans.
Still, no mention of ADOS. It’s not like the Times doesn’t know about ADOS. Earlier this year, New York Times writer Farah Stockman wrote an article examining the American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS), pondering whether the organization is a new social movement or a group of online trolls.
“I struggled with that question a lot as I was reporting an article about ADOS, the American Descendants of Slavery, which argues on social media and YouTube that Black Americans need a separate ethnic category, distinct from Africans and people from the Caribbean who immigrated voluntarily,” Stockman wrote in the Times.
Besides ignoring ADOS in its latest article, the Times also opted not to mention that the family which owns the Times, owned slaves. Earlier this month, new evidence revealed that members of the extended family that owns the New York Times were slaveholders, according to Michael Goodwin, a Fox News contributor and New York Post columnist.
Reparations have been a long time coming, dating back to when Union Gen. William T. Sherman issued an order in 1865 promising 40 acres of land and later a mule to former slaves.
Twenty Black community leaders met with Sherman and War Secretary Edwin Stanton in Savannah, Ga., and came up with the compensation. President Andrew Johnson, however, overturned the order.
“With 40 acres and a mule, what slaves were asking for was the ability to become functioning members of society, by working,” said Royce West, a Texas state senator who ran in a Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. West leaned in favor of reparations.
“Voters have been telling me this is long past due. For a very long time we’ve talked about the study of the need for reparations, but the data is already available,” Bowman said, citing low health, education, and economic outcomes for Black Americans.
Despite all the talk about reparations, it remains just talk. About 70 percent of white Democrats oppose reparations, according to multiple polls.
Written by Ann Brown