The demand for reparations to African people is growing around the world.
The word reparations means payment or repair for damage done.
The UN sponsored World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa in August, 2001 supported the demand for reparations for African, Indigenous and Palestinian people. In response the U.S. and Israel walked out of the conference which ended just days before September 11, 2001.
The African People’s Socialist Party held the first World Tribunal on Reparations for African People in 1982 in Brooklyn, NY. Twelve subsequent sessions of the tribunal have been held since then.
The verdict of the Tribunal, which was held on the basis of international law that allows an oppressed people to bring their case before the world arena, was that the U.S. is guilty of genocide and the enslavement of African people, which built the wealth of the U.S.
The Tribunal called for $4.1 trillion to be paid by the U.S. to African people based on the wealth accumulated in this country from stolen enslaved and underpaid labor of African people alone. The figure of $4.1 trillion in reparations is generally agreed to by experts and scholars today.
The case for reparations being led by the African People’s Socialist Party stems from the fact that the trade in African people was the catalyst for the industrial revolution, the rise of capitalism and the capitalist world economy, which flourishes only by stealing the resources of the majority of the peoples on the planet.
Reparations are also due for the theft of African gold, silver, diamonds and natural minerals and resources that continues today. Africa is the richest continent in resources but more than half of Africa’s population lives on a dollar a day.
Reparations are due as well for the crimes against African people. This includes the chilling history of the lynching, of convict leasing, of white mob terror. It includes the 10 million people slaughtered in the Congo under Belgium in the 19th century, the millions of hands chopped off African people, the genocide by the Germans in Namibia, the terror by the British in South Africa, to name but a few examples.
The reparations demand must include terror against African people today, including police murders, the incarceration of more than 35 percent of young African people, the enforced poverty today, as well as the U.S. backed genocidal wars in Africa today and the continued plunder of Africa’s resources.
The demand for reparations can even be extended to the massive theft of African culture for the enrichment of white society. This includes music, song, dance and other arts—the countless talented Africans who have died in poverty but whose talents or inventions have enriched white people.
Progressive white people must support the demand for reparations to African people. Our lifestyle, prosperity and even our experience of democracy comes from the rape of Africa and is maintained by the economic, political and military domination of African and oppressed peoples all over the globe.
The U.S. and Western governments and corporations owe reparations. Do general white people owe reparations to African people? Yes, we do, not just in a moral sense, but literally. We have the highest standard of living in the world only because African people have been enslaved, lynched, imprisoned and brutalized by regular white working people for our ongoing benefit today.
Ten reasons why the U.S., Western powers and white people everywhere owe reparations to African people:
- The enslavement of African people is the cornerstone upon which the wealth
and power of the U.S. and Europe is built. For more than 500 years the rape
and colonization of Africa, along with the genocide of the Indigenous Peoples
and the domination of the majority of the world, has been the foundation of
the “American dream” of wealth and democracy for the white population.
- White people benefit economically, politically and socially from the suffering,
enslavement and oppression of African people. The oppression of Africans makes
up the pedestal upon which our lives are constructed. Every wave of landless
European workers climbed up the “ladder of success” at the expense of African
people in a system overflowing with wealth and opportunity created by slavery,
theft and genocide.
- Countless millions of tons of gold, silver, minerals, plants, animals and
natural resources were stolen from Africa for our benefit. Slavery and colonialism
have devastated Africa, the richest continent on the planet, subjecting its
people to the violence of genocide, poverty, starvation and repressive social
- White society inflicted immeasurable pain, suffering and terrorism on African
people. The popular and festive lynchings, carried out by all sectors of the
white population, were part of the fabric of the American way of life. The
burnings and armed attacks on Africans; the brandings and torture, the ripping
of babies from the wombs of mothers, the enforced poverty, the attacks on
family life, the exclusion from work, the violent destruction of African business
and enterprise, such as in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the denial of civil and democratic
rights and the degradation of African culture – throughout our history white
people consistently initiated or complied with such crimes against African
- White people carried out genocide, torture, maiming and violence on the
continent of Africa through colonialism. For example, the Belgians killed
20 million people in the Congo and cut off the hands of millions more in the
process of exploiting the rubber crop. Throughout Africa there were massive
mutilations, decapitations and terror perpetrated by colonizers without a
word of protest from white people anywhere.
- Priceless and irreplaceable intellectual property has been stolen from
African people. From the splendid art of ancient Africa now seized and stored
in museums of Europe and North America, to the genius of African music – jazz,
blues, reggae, rap and dance – African art enriches white people and corporations
at the expense of those who created it. African art, technology and science
made white people wealthy while Africans lived and died in poverty.
- African people have been deprived of millions of life years. Countless
young, healthy people died in the holds of ships crossing the Atlantic and
their parents died of grief. Millions more were worked to death in a few short
years as slaves. Today African people in the U.S. live 7 years less than white
people and infant mortality in some African communities is greater than in
underdeveloped countries. AIDS is skyrocketing throughout the African world
and death by curable diseases continues to grow.
- The public policy of police containment, endorsed by the majority of white
people is responsible for rampant police murder, brutality and terror in African
communities. Laws such as “Three Strikes” legislation, voted in by white citizens,
policies allowing discrimination in sentencing and the death penalty, and
the utilization of militaristic police forces have turned African communities
into war zones of terror, fear and death.
- Fifty billion dollars every year is made from the prison economy in the
U.S. and $500 billion is reaped from illegal drug sales at the expense of
African people. The majority of drug users and sellers are white but the majority
of people incarcerated on drug charges in the concentration camps called prisons
are African. Drug money is laundered through major corporations and real estate
firms, yet African people are slanderously labeled “drug kingpins.” Generally
built in rural white areas, the prison industry has fueled economic prosperity
for white people for decades.
- An apology and reparations are ethical and principled – the only genuine rectification that white people can make. Unity and an end to racism can never be realized when we continue to live at the expense of African people. We can no longer turn our heads to the fact that our lifestyle is built on the suffering of others. Peace, justice and even the survival of the planet depend on the ability of African and other peoples to have justice and self-determination. Reparations is our opportunity as white people to join the leadership of African people and oppressed humanity in building a world in which every child can grow up to realize her or his talents and aspirations, a world in which life can truly prevail.