Thinking about the Biden/Harris plan for Native Americans on Indigenous People’s Day seems meaningful. And it seems like a good plan. I am not Native, so cannot speak beyond what the people in this article said. However, I think this is a good re-start/re-beginning. I’d love to see something like a constitutional amendment that included congressional seats specifically for Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Native Alaskans for every state. Or even a fully Native veto body for Congress where every piece of legislation must pass through. I want to see a mandatory 1/3 (minimum) of SCOTUS seats to Native people. And avenues and funding for Native people to run for President. (And actually, if I had my druthers, we’d make a law that no more white men can run for President for at least 400 years, they’ve screwed up enough.) And that shouldn’t even be an argument. We are all living on stolen Native lands and benefitting from the harvests of the lands and water. What might reparations really look like?
The conversations around reparations are almost like we’re missing the point of reparations and the compounding interest. Like every form of systemic inequality, systemic racism, is compounded. If we thought monetarily (because that is also absolutely one of the primary core things here undergirding equity measures anyways) for a moment, the debts owed to Natives and descendants of enslaved people should be compounded with interest. We are 401 years from the arrival of the first ship carrying enslaved Africans landed on this continent, 528 since Columbus. Entire countries enriched themselves from the blood, bodies, and stolen lands (stolen over and over again in different ways). This country enriched itself – Land Grants, international trade beginning with chattel slavery, etc. Corporations enriched themselves – Lehman Brothers, Aetna, JP Morgan Chase, etc. Individuals enriched themselves. And this country still benefits from land theft (which allowed White people to begin building their generational wealth and has implications for higher quality things like healthcare, education, communities, etc, furthering the building of that wealth – so therefore, every white person has benefitted in some way, no matter how poor.) Monetary reparations are fully necessary.
Things like: free high quality healthcare where we can go to whom we want and get what we need (Episode 4 of the 1619 podcast, Tuskegee, Henrietta Lacks, forced sterilizations), free college or advanced education no matter how long or how often (Georgetown, Land Grants), interest free loans (redlining, Ta-Nehisi Coates, sharecropping), pay no state or national taxes (we’ve always lived under double taxation). I’d add, a $1000/month government check for life – on top of our salaries, social security without a reduction in benefits, on top of our retirement, on top of our public assistance without a reduction in benefits.) And all of that is absolutely necessary, 100% but means little without actual access to the seats of power.
I say this because we have 401 and 528 years of evidence that white people will use every dirty trick in the book and invent new cruelties to maintain power. They’ll tell us they know what’s best for us. We’ll tell them what we need and they further criminalize us. State-sanctioned executions are a norm and have been since the first Europeans set foot on this land. And really, I’m speaking of central/Southern Europe because I know too little about the Vikings. And when we speak up, they pretend they can’t hear, pretend there is no way it can be done, and pretend that progress is being made. They erect new laws, crack down in some police-state kind of way, and become more violent. There has been 528 years of affirmative action for white people with none of the various forms of affirmative action policy specifically to help people of color has lasted or worked out in our favor because they are undermined immediately.
White people created every law and system in this country. When caught red handed in the act, they lie. They lie about the full history of this country, construct a narrative full of lies about us – they lie to us about us and they lie to themselves about both themselves and us.
So, there can be no reparations without significant government control held by Indigenous and Black people. Because white folks will figure out some way to undermine monetary reparations. If left in power, white people will continue to erode the planet, thus accelerating climate change, creating even bigger problems for our communities. They’ll mess with our water supply or build a highway or prison in our backyard. That’s the way it works. Any little bit of progress for more than the occasional anomaly, is cause for violent reaction. Rosewood and Tulsa. Flint. Most tribal lands. New Orleans. Because none of those reparations change the ways in which the laws work against us. They won’t change the ways in which business is done. Even if we all had our own homes. If we suffered a catastrophic loss like the recent wildfires or a hurricane, we’d get no reprieve. They’ve already proven they do not give a shit about us and will not come and get us. Study up on Hurricane Katrina. What I’m saying is approximately a steady 55% of white people do not give a shit about us and will continue to do so and would be very violent about something like this, crying about the money.
As far as I can tell, white people shouldn’t be able to run for public office for at least 528 years if we use Columbus as the starting point. Or we we can go by approximately 20 generations. They fuck everything up. I’m likely never running for President with a platform like this.
I’d think something like this could be impossible but it really isn’t. Think about how quickly the forever impeached POS Nazi POTUS tore this democracy apart, found billions of dollars for the stupid fucking southern border war, the gazillions of dollars of military equipment, weapons, machinery, vehicles, etc that have been left behind overseas in war zones or are rotting away in a graveyard somewhere like the one in…where was that? California? Arizona? I can’t remember. clearly there is money and really it’s our money as taxpayers. He decimated entire government agencies, gutted others, is using how many of our tax dollars to take us to court over the ACA? Or how many of our tax dollars are being used at his properties, for his golfing trips, for his and his family’s security? The numbers are profane. He’s done all of this in four years time and we could do the same. And we can no longer abide by empty promises and bandaids on our hemorrhaging wounds.
Do I think what I’ve laid out is possible? I think so. However, we have to fight for it and demand actual real reparations and this is what that looks like. Real reparations. And maybe in that process, we’d rid ourselves of systemic racism. Maybe. So, the next time someone in government says something can’t be done or there isn’t money to support the humans in this country, we need to call bullshit loudly. It’s about priorities and our priorities in this country have always privileged white comfort and progress over BIPOC lives. Every single time. At every time in this country when we’ve been at a crossroads, white people have ensured that we dove further into white supremacy, to secure their power. We have been denied education, healthcare, homeownership, access to power. That a select few of us make it through is not evidence that systemic racism exists. Instead it speaks to our resilience, brilliance, and magic. When they could no longer kill us without consequence (and it’s still arguable about whether white people pay consequences for harming us), they turned to other violent and oppressive ways to control and suppress us.
Without access to the powers that decide big things, reparations rings a little flat to me. This should be considered alongside Ice Cube’s reparations plan which has more detail in some of the areas mentioned. I think I ask for more in some areas, he asks for more in others and is pretty detailed around police reform, which I haven’t even tackled here. Both plans seem reasonable to me. And really, so much of both plans were introduced at on point in history, just to be abandoned later. The 40 acres and a mule we were promised after slavery? Never came to fruition. You know who got reparations? The enslavers were paid for the loss of their enslaved people.