We Built This Shit, Run Me My Money
The cost a nation must pay because it was built on slavery and racism. Historically speaking, slavery launched what is known as modern day capitalism and ultimately turned America into the wealthiest country in the world. Slavery did that. The enslavement of Africans and African descendants, who were forced to work for free is what America’s foundation is built upon. These stolen BLACK bodies deeply embedded in gross manipulation and systematic torture, where approximately 100 million stolen PEOPLE were shuffled throughout the world…..for sale to the highest bidder. Black Holocaust, a strategic game, like chess where white became RIGHT and all others were losers, wrong, ¾ human and relegated to being less than.
Some might say we need to OCCUPY, DISMANTLE AND RECTIFY all that has been left behind from slavery. While others say REPARATIONS will provide financial compensation for slavery and the dirty residue that guides all of our existence to this day. Everything American is based on slavery and no matter how much we reverberate positive thoughts about why Black Lives Matter, the truth is the truth….slavery, Black bodies, hypocrisy rules everything and the whole damn system is guilty as hell. I am reminded of the 1993 rap classic by Wu-Tang Clan, CREAM…. “cash rules everything around me, CREAM, get the money, dollar dollar bill y’all.” We cannot talk about the big LIES that have historically been fed to Black communities and other communities of colored folks since the beginning of America’s inceptions, without talking about SLAVERY. At the end of the day, it hasn’t matter up to this point, even when we exhibit:
Knowledge of self….
Melanin power or
The demand for REPARATIONS based on past and continued harm inflicted on people of African descents can be achieved. The government, responsible corporations and other institutions that have profited off of said harm, from colonialism to slavery through food apartheid, housing redlining, mass incarceration and surveillance, all of which can afford to compensate Black folks for known wrongs. Imagine if there was an attempt to make Black folks whole via:
- Education – due to the denial of access to quality educational opportunities, in the form of full and free access to all public universities, colleges and technical schools; as well retroactive forgiveness of student loan debt and support for lifetime learning programs.
- Livable Income – divestment from, discrimination towards and exploitation of Black communities in the form of guaranteed minimum livable income for Black people through structured and articulated corporate regulations.
- Cultural Assets/Sacred Sites – due to the systematic educational exploitation, erasure and extraction of Black history from public school curriculum; as well the political, economic and social impacts of colonialism and slavery via support, building, preserving and restoring cultural assets and sacred sites honoring Black struggle and triumph.
- Wealth Extraction – based on systematic environmental racism, slavery, food apartheid, housing discrimination and racialized capitalism, from corporate and government entities that have cause physical and mental trauma based on said control of food sources, housing and land.
- Acknowledgement – legislation at the federal, state and local level requiring the immediate passage of H.R. 40 (Commission to Study Reparations Proposal for African-Americans Act) to call for remedies based on known lasting implications of slavery and a plan to address the impacts.
Imagine what REPARATIONS would look like here in Sacramento and all across this country:
- Actual attempts to close the educational achievement gap and ending the school to prison pipeline, free tuition for public educational institutions (ie. Sac State, UC Berkeley, etc), funding beyond tuition and further support for historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
- Universal Basic Income (UBI) that is unconditional and guaranteed ensuring economic security for Black folks, via a monthly check to compensate and fill in the gaps so one can live comfortably. If we divest from criminal justice institutions there will be revenue to benefit the most poor and disenfranchised currently.
- Re-incorporate historical facts that have been left out of public school curriculum; as well identifying people, places and events to be honored as sacred places/landmarks relating to Black struggle and triumph as memorials. (ie. Negro Beach at Folsom Lake and including lessons on cities like Tulsa, Oklahoma and the significant wealth its residences amassed after being freed from slavery)
- Unoccupied buildings and land can be disbursed to Black people as housing compensation; as well the releasing of individuals from criminal justice institutions for drug crimes and/or sentences that have been excessive, punitive and racially motivated.
- The easiest of all, would be simple acknowledgment of and remedies for lasting implications related to colonialism and slavery. H.R. 40 has been presented year after year; and even the UN has deemed it necessary for the US to pay Blacks reparations, just as other countries have done…..so why not America?
The truth of the matter is here in Sacramento - Adriene Ludd, Dazion Flenaugh, Trish Hill, Joseph Mann, Jason King, Armani Lee, Lorenzo Cruz, Desmond Phillips, Ryan Ellis, Mikel McIntyre, Nandi Cain, Zityrua Abraham, and James Nelson have been the victims of this system formerly known as slavery. Let’s be clear when it comes to REPARATIONS, if there is money to be paid in exchange for life and torture, then we can transfer those funds to be paid in exchange for living.
The Mann family has been paid a pretty penny of tax payer dollars, Nandi Cain has been partially paid out, and several others mentioned above have attorneys seeking monetary compensation against law enforcement agencies that have murdered and/or used excessive force against them, although unarmed. Let’s be specific, the Sacramento Sheriff department has been guilty for excessive force and even murder, but they are also guilty of with-holding essential information related to cases of officer involved incidences. Simultaneously, DA Anne Schubert continues to not find fault against individual officers and law enforcement agencies. Thus the systematic culture of TERROISM is still a pervasive stain on the very essence of American flag. Amazingly, so many find fault in the action of taking a knee when the national anthem is played, despite the hypocrisy that exist when we dissect the treatment of Blacks in America since slavery. Reparations can also be sought in the form of Oversight Commissions to monitor wrong doings by officers and law enforcement agencies.
Let’s take a trip down America’s tattered and bloodied history lane….the Civil war began April 12, 1861 and ended May 9, 1865 and at the crux of the war was slavery. The southern states, also known as the Confederate, were fighting for slavery to continue; while the norther states, known as the Union, weren’t necessarily against slavery not just the way it was constructed at the time. Many believe Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, well that was by default, he just happened to be president at the time and since the Union won, he was forced to Emancipate and free the slaves. He wasn’t in favor of freeing the slaves; proof is in the fact that he was in favor of the southern states seceding from the Union to keep slavery alive. But the lie we have been fed is that Lincoln did something great and magnificent for Black people, when in all actuality the Confederate (Lincoln’s base) lost.
Reality check….the freed slaves had an expectation that land would be issued to help them become financially independent. Radical Republicans and President Johnson were in favor of taking plantation land and divvying it up to the freed slaves….hence the phrase “40 Acres and Mule,” but there wasn’t enough Congressional support and in the end, the plantation owners were given permission to evict former slaves off of their land. In 1866 Congress passed the Southern Homestead Act and set aside 44 million acres of land in the south, however that land was swampy and unsuitable. Thus the entire effort of Reconstruction and giving tangible assistance to the freed slaves was a huge FAILURE.
“So we are all Black people, so-called Negroes, ex-slaves! You don’t like to be told that, but what else are you? You didn’t come on the Mayflower, you came on slave ships, in chains, like a horse, or a chicken. And you were brought here by the people who came on the Mayflower, by the Pilgrims and so-called founding fathers. They are the ones who brought you here.” – Malcolm X
Truth be told, if 40 acres and mule were paid to slaves after the Civil War it would be worth a whopping $6.4 trillion today. Slavery made America wealthy and racist policies since have blocked African American wealth building. There would be no #45 in the office of the presidency or even as a wealthy business owner without the generational wealth passed his way. Imagine if the scripts were flipped and Blacks had amassed wealth exhibited in towns like:
- Tulsa and Greenwood, Oklahoma (aka Black Wall Street),
- Rosewood, Florida,
- Seneca Village, Five Points Districts and Weeksville, New York,
- Freedman’s Village, Virginia,
- Allensworth, California,
- And so many other towns in Texas, Mississippi, Iowa and other states.
Success, drive and innovation are in the DNA of Africans who persevered through slavery; their determination to seek all that which was prohibited during their lives as slaves. From a local perspective, Oak Park right here in Sacramento would be that thriving Black community, like the ones mentioned above.
“The laments about ‘black pathology,’ the criticism of the black family structures by pundits and intellectuals, ring hollow in a country whose existence was predicated on the torture of black fathers, on the rape of black women, on the sale of black children. An honest assessment of America’s relationship to the black family reveals the country to be not its nurturer but its destroyer.” – Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations”
Let’s think about Oak Park for a minute……the Gold Rush brought white settlers and Blacks as well. In 1918 there was an Influenza Epidemic; soon thereafter Black began to settle the area thru WWII. Black military personnel and workers in the wartime industries moved to Oak Park because it was affordable to buy and rent due to redlining, and Oak Park soon became a thriving Black community.
Today however, Oak Park has become a victim of GENTRIFICATION……black residents have been pushed out. The erasure of Black faces from this once thriving Black community is evident as scurrying investors hoping to make a quick buck are flipping cheap properties in Oak Park, left and right. Guess what goes hand in hand with gentrification, when new residents move into the community and clash with existing Black residents….dun dun dun, a heightened police presence. The culture of law enforcement is to over police BLACK BODIES. Not only have housing prices increased, but black businesses have been pushed out as well. At the crux of the debate of gentrification in Oak Park, one would be remise if we didn’t mention former mayor Kevin Johnson and his mission to transform his old childhood neighborhood into something great.
Kevin Johnson and St. Hope Investments have bought some properties in Oak Park. They even gave a valiant effort in transforming the only high school in the area, which was experiencing low levels of high school graduation success. Currently, however the investment company hasn’t done much to offset the continued trend of gentrification in the area. On October 22nd, BLM Sacramento held its annual Black Love Block Party in honor of Adriene Ludd, who was killed by the Sac Sheriff department on October 22, 2015. During the event, it was discovered that a mural was painted on the wall of the Guild Theater (a St. Hope property). The mural included the faces of several men who have been killed by local law enforcement agencies. We saw it as a beautiful gift. We felt moved to add candles and flowers to the site of the mural….an alley, where the community could easily come to mourn and remember their loved ones and learn about the pervasive problem of police brutality. The joy that the mural brought was short lived…..as Tracy Stigler, President of St. Hope quickly had it removed.
With media coverage, Mr. Stigler left the impression that a conversation about the mural could be had and there was a possibility of it being re-erected. BLM Sacramento reached out and after meeting with Mr. Stigler it was quite evident that he and St. Hope are not in favor of sending a message about gentrification or police brutality. If their mission is to preserve Blackness in Oak Park, we sure can’t tell; as a matter of fact they look just like the other investment companies trying to make a profit off of what was once a thriving Black community, on the backs of Black folks who built Oak Park and America…..yeah, “we built this shit” rings true on so many levels. One final question for Kevin Johnson, St. Hope and Tracy Stigler…..if not you, then who will preserve the imagery of Blackness in Oak Park?
On November 18th two BLM Sacramento events speak volumes to the topic of REPARATIONS – “The Community Want Its Mural Back” action in front of the Guild Theater and our workshop on REPARATIONS……how ironic, to let St. Hope hear the voice of the community and then to delve in deep with the community to bring understanding to the topic and explore the possibilities here locally. What a powerful and magnificent statement to send to the community, property investment companies, city officials, law enforcement and the world? The mural was a beautiful gift that brought Black faces back to the overly gentrified area…..A statement piece of art that stood for BLACK life and love and death. Again, Kevin Johnson, St. Hope and Tracy Stigler, if not you then who? If the goal is long standing economic change and development, St Hope what are you scared of in supporting “everything BLACK?”
There were several young people in the room form Sac High School, by the way which is in the heart of Oak Park, which was once a thriving Black neighborhood; but as of late has been highly GENTRIFIED. When we think about REPARATIONS, there is evidence that students who are exposed to their history are more productive. Students at Sac High are required to take Ethnic Studies, unlike many of their counterparts nationwide. We dug deep into the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL.org) platform on REPARATIONS. At the end of the discussion, seeking reparations seems extremely possible. There are so many ways in which reparations can be paid……THE BIG PAY BACK -
- Individually – grants and payment
- Symbolically – constructions of monuments and memorials
- Community – the rehabilitation of services, activities associated with health, education, housing, food and job opportunity
- Institutional – reform measures to ensure human rights
So, why not press the issue of forming a Community Oversight Commission for the Sacramento Sheriff department…..or, holding Mayor Darryl Steinberg and the Sacramento City Council accountable to SPD training on mental health…..or, pressing DA Anne Schubert on issues related to law enforcement excessive force and murder…..or, letting St. Hope know their platform is the perfect platform to make powerful statements that show commitment to the importance of Black greatness in Oak Park. All of these things intertwined are REPARATIONS….education, monuments, policy and livelihood.
Yeah, “we built this shit.”
Always, “betting on EVERYTHING BLACK.”
And yes, “run me my money.”
Nov 28th - Is SPD Following Directions of City Government
Dec 2nd - Emergency Open Meeting for Black Sacramento
Dec 9th - Whose Streets? Our Streets! Alternatives to Police
Dec 30th - BLM Sac Winter Bake Sale
Dec 30th - Black Lives Rap Fest
Jan 13th - Know Your Rights While Black Training - Part 1