When people like me ask for reparations,
We are only asking for what is rightfully ours, what you rightfully ought to be doing and what you should have done right from the start!
Reparations are one way you can come clean about what you and your ancestors did and are benefitting from.
That is when I also ask myself, “Reparations – How can we do them right?”
Photo credit: NBC News
According to the United Nations, there are certain conditions that must be met in order for us to say that we are actually healing.
- Cessation, assurances guarantees of non-repetition.
- Restitution and repatriation.
Photo credit: Health
Sierra Club dressed these conditions like this:
- Under the first condition, a state responsible for wrongfully injuring a people “is under an obligation to a) “cease the act if it is continuing, and, b) offer appropriate assurances and guarantees of non-repetition…”
- Under the second condition, restitution means to “re-establish the situation which existed before the wrongful act was committed.” Changes traced to the wrongful act are reversed through restoration of freedom, recognition of humanity, identity, culture, repatriation, livelihood, citizenship, legal standing, and wealth to the extent they can be, and if they cannot, restitution is completed by compensation.
- Under the third condition, the injuring state, institution or individual is obligated to compensate for the damage, if damage is not made good by restitution. Compensation is required for “any financially accessible damage suffered…” to the extent “appropriate and proportional to the gravity of the violation and circumstances.”
- Under the fourth condition, satisfaction is part of full reparations under international law for moral damage, such as “emotional injury, mental suffering, and injury to reputation.” In some instances where cessation, restitution, and compensation do not bring full repair, satisfaction is also needed. Apology falls under the reparative category of satisfaction.
- In the final condition, rehabilitation shall be provided to include legal, medical, psychological, and other care and services.
Photo credit: BSR
Over the years, we have seen what reparations are not.
That is where I ask myself this question;
Reparations – How can we do them right?
These are things that so many people like you have done either casually or out of being hand-twisted and they include:
Photo credit: USA Today
- Just saying sorry or feeling bad while avoiding accountability for individual or collective contributions to the violation, or while benefiting from the harm, whether through inheritance or ongoing privileges.
- Paying an individual Black person’s bills.
- Donating any amount of money to a Black institution. Unless accompanied by acts of repair, restitution, and efforts to leverage power, influence, and resources to ensure cessation and non-repetition, simply writing a check is not reparations.
Photo credit: The Washington Post
Remember, reparations are not a one-off thing since even your actions were not just a one-off thing.
It is one very long, uncomfortable process that we must all sit still in.
I believe in you.
We all can do this!