by RL Starr of the San Diego branch of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement
Many of you know me for showing up at all the marches and protests. You’ve seen me with a different message on my posterboard every time. If it offended, I was there. If it was unjust, I was there. If it had harmed someone I loved, I was there. But, as Omali Yeshitela asks, to what end?
What good did all that shouting ever really do? How did I change the actual circumstances I so despised? Did the mock shantytown we built on campus at Loyola Marymount Univ in 1987 to protest apartheid in S. Africa change anything for Occupied Azania? Did my carefully lettered sign do anything to support the family of Billy Venable, murdered by SDPD? Did street theater about the Allied invasion of Iraq do anything for children in Baghdad? Or did it just make me feel better about myself…Off and on over the years, I had heard of Reparations. I knew that the U.S. had paid them to the families of Japanese Americans forced into concentration camps during the Second Imperialist War.
Last year during the Mike Brown protests, I came across a local group of activists, white, brown, and Black, who were calling for immediate Reparations to the family of Mike Brown. And Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant and Cary Ball and and and. There were whites in the group who were raising the money. And there was literature that listed all the programs that the money would go to support. The programs reminded me of what I’d read about the Black Panther programs.
The literature explained how expensive colonialism and slavery have been for Africans and Indigenous people — people such as my daughter, whose Filipina heritage must be mined out from under 500 years of colonial murder. The tab is $14 trillion. This is blood money that we white people benefit from.
We white leftists mean well — our hearts are in the right place. We hold meeting after meeting breaking down what it means to be white and how we need an attitude adjustment. But until we work to PAY BACK what we’ve gained by robbing others, all the protest marches in the world are for naught. We rest solidly on the pedestal of parasitic capitalism.
While we chat light-heartedly about where to meet for dinner after a long, ‘successful’ march, Africans drown in the Mediterranean. While we hold vigils for a friend arrested at a demonstration, one in every eight Africans in the world remains locked up in a U.S. Prison. While we fret over our retirement funds or lack of vacation pay, Native children in the U.S. die of starvation.
So, we have choices. This is a critical juncture in history, when we either continue doing various forms of ‘charity,’ or we step up and WORK. Raising Reparations is HARD WORK. It isn’t easy convincing other white folks that we owe Reparations.It isn’t easy holding fundraisers or donating proceeds or giving up your precious weekends.
White people think we get a free pass if we ‘never owned slaves.’ But the issue is so much more complicated than that. Read or listen to the speeches of Penny Hess, about the systematic violence that whites have committed for hundreds of years. About how the avg white family makes 22% what the avg Black family makes. Search for her speeches on youtube. Better yet, come see her speak at the World Beat Center next Monday, Oct 5th 6 pm.
The keynote speaker of the Day in Solidarity with African People event at the World Beat Center on October 6 is Chairman Omali Yeshitela, founder and leader of the Uhuru Movement, Chair of the African People’s Socialist Party. Chairman Omali Yeshitela and the APSP formed the Uhuru Soldiarity Movement as the organization of white people under the Party’s leadership who organize for reparations to African people. Learn more on October 6. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.