Skip to main content

By Bashir Muhammad Akinyele —

“The making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged.” (American dictionary on the definition of the word reparations)

“if you stick a knife in my back nine inches, taking a knife out my back six inches is not progress. Progress is healing the wound the knife made is progress. Sometimes you even acknowledge that the knife is there.” – Malcolm X (Omawele El Malik El Shabazz)

The recent death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed on film by Minneapolis, Minnesota police officers, has sparked massive social justice Black Lives Matter protests in America and all over the globe. Many people in America, and around the world, have been moved to destroy, or challenge, monuments and movies immersed in White supremacy. There are reports of social justice actvists and elected officials eliminating and destroying statues connected to the American and European enslavement of Black people. In, “Monuments and statues in the US and around the world that are dedicated to controversial historical figures with legacies of slavery and racism have become the target of demonstrations during the #BlackLivesMatter protests. In several cases, the statues have even been toppled by activists taking matters into their owns hands.”

In Hollywood, social justice activists are challenging racist depictions of Black people. People are calling for the removal of racist movies like, Gone With the Wind from the predominantly White owned HBO cable company’s programming chanel. And Hollywood responded. According to the Washington Post, they are making the movie available to subscribers with a new introduction from a prominent Afrikan American studies scholar. The paper says, “HBO Max temporarily removed the epic from its service after the surge of Black Lives Matter protests across the country and a re-energized discussion about racial inequality”

But While Hollywood copes with their conflicts and contradictions for promoting White supremacy in their movies to the world about Black people, I hope they think about completely destroying racist movies like D. W. Griffith’s and Thomas Dixon Jr’s 1915 work, ‘Birth of A Nation’. This movie promotes the Klu Klux Klan as the saviors of America from newly freed Black people from slavery. It depicted Black people as shiftless, lazy, and irresponsible sub human beings. But the most frightening part of the film is framing all Black men as rapists of White women. Yes, some of these movies must be given context. However, blatant White supremacist movies, like ‘Birth of A Nation’, should be completely abolished from the annals of Hollywood. They are constant reminders of Black oppression. But all of this social justice activity is just the tip of the iceberg. The huge ice of racism is much bigger and deeply ingrained in the waters of Black lives in America and in the world. Reparations must be the icebreaker to melt historic and deep generational levels of entrenched inequality.

White domination came into existence from the 1400s to 1900s. It used White supremacy and the systematic institutionalization of racism to enslave and segregate Black people to make American, the western world, and White people wealthy for centuries. Unfortunately, as a consequence of slavery and racial discrimination, these conditions made Black people a permanent underclass in America for generations past and present.

Historically, Black people were brought to Jamestown, Virginia from Afrika in chains by White people to be tuned into slaves in 1619 in America. Slavery in America, and in Europe, violently stripped Black people from Afrika, of our Afrikan names, Afrikan culture, Afrikan practicing western religions, Afrikan spiritual systems, Afrikan languages, manhood, womanhood, childhood, norms, values, folkways, mores, and all connections to mother Afrika.

Let’s look at the facts on reparations in America. Although Native American people are still locked in a protracted struggle to liberate their people from White domination, they have received some concessions from the US government for sanctioning the racist slaughter of millions of Native people since the founding of America. According to the Brooking Institute April 15, 2020 article titled, Why We Need Reparations for Black Americans, “Native Americans have received land and billions of dollars for various benefits and programs for being forcibly exiled from their native lands.  Japanese Americans received reparations after their racist and unjustified detention in American internment camps during World War II. In 1988, US Republican President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 which apologized for the internment on behalf of the U.S. government and authorized a payment of $20,000 (equivalent to $43,000 in 2020) to each camp survivor. The total payment to the Japanese American community was in the billions. On the other hand, US government has committed 0 dollars to Black reparations. Not even an official apology from the United States government for our years in slavery and segregation.

Even when it comes to our Jewish family, the US government financially supports their community as well. They have secured billions for their community. In fact, in January, the US government committed to giving 3.3 billion dollars annually in aid to the state of Israel. This increase in money to Israel happened under President Barack Obama-the country’s first Black President. According to Reuters, in its January article titled,” U.S. Senators Back Bill to Provide $3.3 Billions for Israel,” American lawmakers said, “The bill would put into law a “Memorandum of Understanding reached between Israel and the Obama administration from four years ago that was the biggest pledge of U.S. military assistance made to any country.”

The only thing that will make us truly equal to White people is reparations. If we truly want to make BLACK LIVES MATTER IN AMERICA AND IN THE WORLD.

What should a Black reparations package look like in America. For starters, it could look like the following:

1) For 250 years of American slavery plus 100 years of legal sanctioned segregation equals 350 years of Black oppression and exploitation. With that being said, Black people would be given the right to attend, if accepted to a vocation school, college or university, tuition free for the amount of time Black people were enslaved and lived under segregation. Note: affirmative action programs and policies should remain in place.

2) Black people should be given low interests business loans.

3) Black should be given low interest mortgage loans.

4) Afrikana studies should be the requirement for all people to take to graduate high schools and colleges to erase the vestiges of White supremacist culture and history in American institutions. Because White supremacy has been systematically institutionalized, it has been left to fester in the minds of all Americans matriculating throughout American society, particularly in the Black community, promoting Whiteness as superior and Black inferior.

5) All Black political prisoners and New Afrikan prisoners of war would go free from incarceration. All of the them were victims of the FBI’s secret racist police program called cointelpro (counter intelligence program) that targeted Black leaders and Black organizations for destruction in the 1950s, 1960s, and in the early 1970s.

6) Rebuilding the infrastructure of Afrika would help the heal the continent. Afrikan cultures and civilizations were devastated by the Europeans and American slave trade.

7) free counselor serves would be available for all Black victims of White supremacy and the systematic institutionalization of racism in America to relieve us from the trauma of White hegemony.

8)reforming policing in America, particularly in the Black community.

9) And lastly, the US government would deliver a formal written and verbal apology to the Black community for the legal sanctioning of the enslavement of Black people for centuries.

This is just a start!!! But if Black lives are really going to matter in America, then reconciliation begins by finally giving Black people our long overdue reparations for our 350 years of pain and suffering under American enslavement and segregation. These two conditions have devastated Black life in America and in Afrika. Reparations will put Black people back on the path to became whole again as human beings and make us truly equal with the rest of the human family!!!!!!!!

As a side bar note, and this must be stated for the record, there have been a few courageous Black leaders and Black organizations that stepped up and out to challenge America and the western world on reparations. N’COBRA (The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America), the late Dr. Conrad Worrill, Dr. Ron Daniels, the New Black Panther Party, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, and the Nation of Islam have supported reparations from their rostrums of Black liberation. Former US Congressman Jon Conyers and current US congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee established House Resolution (H.R.) 40 as the Congressional Reparations Study Bill. Since 1989, every year the Bill has been introduced in Congress. H.R. 40 has been championed by N’COBRA’s (The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America) Legislative Commission. In 2001, N’COBRA supported H.R.40, entitled Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act. This bill was sponsored by John Conyers Jr.. The N’COBRA organization has been around for decades fighting for reparations since 1987. It was founded by Afrikan centered community-based organizations, such as the Conference of Black Lawyers, The New Afrikan Peoples, and the Republic of New Afrika. However, with all this great Black nationalist and progressive work for reparations from some Black leaders and Afrikan centered grass-roots organizations, we still have not received our reparations. America is still hell bent on denying owed Black reparations to the Black community.

Fundamentally, Black Reparations are needed resources to close the social and economic racial disparities within the Black community in America caused by over 350 years of American slavery and segregation. Yes, it will take billions to right the racist wrongs created by America and the western world in the Black community and Afrikan world. Even the famous and wealthy Afrikan American billionaire business man Bob Johnson, the creator of B.E.T. (Black Entertainment Television), seems a problem with economic inequalities in Black America He has called on the US government to even pay trillions to Black people in reparations money. It was reported in Fox Business News, “Is $14 trillion too much to ask for the atonement of 200 plus years of brutal slavery, de facto and de jure government-sponsored social and economic discrimination and the permanent emotional trauma inflicted upon black Americans by being forced to believe in a hypocritical and unfulfilled pledge that ‘all men are created equal’? His press release included a link to a paper that advocates for $350,767 for every black person in the U.S. Johnson advocated for direct cash payments over the next 10 to 20 years.” Johnson said in a statement

Anti-racist White American activists and Black leaders must find the political and intellectual temerity to politically and morally move the masses of White people to do the right thing to support Black reparations, harness the power of the vote, the Black vote, and the masses people in America to force the Democrats and the Republicans to help them understand that the policies of reparations will find solutions to the problems uniquely affecting the Black community from White supremacy and systematic racism, such as unemployment, under employment, poverty, high incarceration, police violence, poor healthcare, community violence, the lack of Black business ownership, the lack of owning real estate, the lack of Black private schools, the land question, Black self-determination, lack of support for Afrikana studies programs on college campuses, the lack of Afrikan centered cultural programs in the Black community, neocolonialism in Afrika, and racism. But these conditions directly stem from hundreds of years of American slavery (the Maafa) and legalized segregation. The Maafa is a Kiswahili word for the great disaster that forced the migration of Black people from Afrika to the world. If this does not happen, then everything else is just racial liberal cosmetics. In other words, we are getting played by the US government, and by some Black leadership, with small gestures of equality, then we are just playing ourselves. As Malcolm X (Omawele El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, the Black nationalist freedom fighter and human rights activist would say, “you been had, you been took, you been led a stray, you been bamboozled.” Every oppressed group (i.e. women, Latinos, LBGTQ, Muslims, Jews) forces America to give them money and resources except Black people.


Asante sana (Kiswahili for thank you very much) for reading my commentary.

O Dabo (Yoruba for go with God until we meet again)!!!


Spelling Afrika with a k is not a typo. Using the k in Afrika is the Kiswahili way of writing Africa. Kiswahili is a Pan -Afrikan language. It is spoken in many countries in Afrika. Kiswahili is the language used in Kwanzaa. The holiday of Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26 to January 1.

#Hotep #afrocentricity #nationofislam #kemet #blacktheology #kwanzaa #blackstudies koi

Bashir Muhammad Akinyele is a History Teacher, Black Studies Teacher, Community Activist, Chairperson of Weequahic High School’s Black History Month Committee in Newark, NJ, commentary writer, and Co-Producer and Co-Host of the All Politics Are Local, the number #1 political Hip Hip radio show in America.


IBW21 (The Institute of the Black World 21st Century) is committed to enhancing the capacity of Black communities in the U.S. and globally to achieve cultural, social, economic and political equality and an enhanced quality of life for all marginalized people.