House Resolution Bill 40 (named for the 40 acres and a mule that Black people never got) introduced by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, if passed, establishes the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans to examine slavery (enslavement) and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies. Former Congressman John Conyers had introduced a similar bill every year for over 30 years – and it laid dormant in the hallowed halls of Congress because America refused to remember she suffers from long-term amnesia when it comes to her involvement in the Christian/Atlantic enslavement trade.
Congresswoman Jackson timed her announcement to coincide with the celebration of Juneteenth. I guess this was an attempt to use historical facts to help America with her loss of memory and to help bring her up-to-date on the horrors of her past and present state of affairs when it comes to paying a debt long overdue:
REPARATION (repe’raSHen) – “work done” payments to enslaved African-Americans who were forced to work as free labor solely for converting the American economy into a SUPER ECONOMIC POWERHOUSE thus creating THE AMERICAN DREAM out of an AMERICAN NGHTMARE; to indemnify African-Americans who gave rise to America’s economic system – CAPITALISM – with the toil of their enslaved labor; with the sacrifice of their human bodies traded as capital; and with their knowledge of agriculture to work the land – making COTTON KING!; to make a people whole again as a result of the brutal, inhumane, and monstrous treatment by people of European (now Americans) descent inclusive of but not limited to: 250 years of enslavement; 90 years of Jim Crow; 60 years of separate but equal; 35 years of state-sanctioned redlining; restitution for using African-Americans as human raw material for the prison/military/industrial complex; recompense for psychological and physical harassment, as well as, unarmed killings by police for walking, running, driving, swimming, biking, drinking coffee, gardening, looking suspicious, and just breathing air.
America in her selected amnesia, remembers the sins of the father and mother shall be visited upon their sons and daughters ONLY when it comes to certain ethnicities. In the federal government contracting world, this remembrance is known as the Small Business Development 8(a) Program which targets socially and economically disadvantaged concerns. Participants in this program include Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, and Subcontinent Asian Americans. For most participants, the duration of this program is nine years. But America only remembers brutalizing, killing and taking land from Hawaiians, Alaska Natives and Native Americans. These three specific groups are allowed to remain in the 8(a) program in perpetuity.
Although this remedy falls way short of the pain and suffering inflicted by America’s fathers and mothers, it nonetheless attempts to right the wrongs by their sons and daughters.
The African collective memory readily recalls when Sir Francis Hawkins captained the first slave ship named “Jesus” and brought the first lot of enslaved Africans to America. According to America, the African’s original sin was their dark hue; darker than blue. The noble words written by America’s Founding Fathers and memorialized in the Declaration of Independence setting forth examples of “unalienable rights” were not ascribed to the newly arrived enslaved African. Instead they were brutally coerced to subscribe to: NO LIFE; NO LIBERTY; NO PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.
When it is all said and done it actually comes down to this: the idea of putting the runaway enslaved African-American Harriet Tubman’s face on the twenty dollar bill won’t get us closer to “getting paid.” However, if it comes into fruition it would be the first time two U.S. currencies are combined into one U.S. legal note: the currency of enslaved human capital and the currency of U.S. legal tender. Tubman sought and found freedom via the Underground Railroad. Under President Trump, release of the Tubman twenty dollar bill has been relegated to America’s “dark past” underground. Juxtaposing African- American enslavement atrocities with the U.S. dollar behooves black people to squeeze the dollar “till the eagle grins” – courtesy of ancestor Chuck Brown, father of D.C. GO-GO and taken from his hit song, “WE NEED MONEY.”
Aside from gingko biloba, I heard caffeine helps with memory loss too. One would think as much coffee white folks’ drink their amnesia would be a thing of the past. But that is exactly what they want to forget.
Tolson Banner is a writer and columnist.