The University of California system is one of the largest and most prestigious post-secondary educational institutions in the country. Its beginnings 170 years ago were as fraught as they were humble. The Morrill Act enabled the creation of land-grant colleges, which were resourced by the sale of federal lands. These lands were, in many cases, stewarded by tribes, and they ended up in the hands of the federal government sometimes by treaty and often through seizure. Although a critical driving force behind California’s continued economic and technological successes, UC has not been sufficiently accessible to the very people whose dispossession was core to its founding. In a monumental move, the State of California is looking to correct historical injustice and promote greater inclusiveness of Native Americans, a group that to this day encounters numerous systemic barriers to post-secondary education.
California is the first state in the U.S. to establish a reparations task force for Black Americans. On June 1, the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans issued a 500-page document that traces the history of white supremacy from slavery to Jim Crow through the present. It calls for “comprehensive reparations” for Black people harmed by a historical system of state-sanctioned oppression. “Segregation, racial terror, harmful racist neglect, and other atrocities in nearly every sector of civil society have inflicted harms, which cascade over a lifetime and compound over generations,” the report says. “The California Reparations Commission’s first report is historic,” Chris Lodgson, Lead Organizer with the Coalition for a Just and Equitable California, told Truthout.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic on September 26, 2020 during the General Debate of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves said that [...] the international campaign for reparatory justice, widely promoted by governments across our Caribbean Community and by social activists within the industrialized metropoles, must form part of any serious efforts to achieve the sustainable development agenda […]. On November 3, 2020 during the "Peacebuilding and sustaining peace" debate organized by the United Nations Security Council the President of the "CARICOM Reparations Commission" Hilary Beckles [...] called on the Council to acknowledge the global reparatory movement, adding that while most crimes against humanity were committed in past, the current century will be one of peace and justice […].
Providence, Rhode Island - Terrell Osborne knows well what happens when urban renewal comes to communities of color. As a child growing up in Providence, Rhode Island, in the 1950s and 1960s, huge swaths of his neighborhood of Lippitt Hill, a center of Black life at the foot of the stately homes of the city’s elite East Side, were taken by eminent domain for redevelopment projects. Hundreds of Black families and dozens of minority small businesses across some 30 acres were bulldozed. In their place rose an apartment complex catering to downtown workers and students and faculty at nearby Brown University, as well as a shopping plaza now anchored by a Whole Foods and a Starbucks. Meanwhile, Black families like the Osbornes were scattered across the city and never compensated.
“There’s the California that people imagine, a place I would love to visit and maybe buy a house on one salary,” Mayor Daniel Lee, now running for Congress, says with a smile. “Then, there’s the actual California.” Back in 2018, when Lee was elected as Culver City’s first Black councilmember, he didn’t know about the city’s history as a “sundown town,” a reference to all-white areas that enforce segregation through local laws, intimidation and violence. It was only at the Annual Legislative Conference hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation that other Black elected officials told him their stories of taking roundabout drives in their youth to avoid the notoriously racist Culver City Police Department. The city was founded by Harry H. Culver, who advertised it in the Los Angeles Herald in 1915 as a “model little white city.”
The idea of paying reparations for slavery and other forms of racial injustice remains deeply controversial. Yet it has gained renewed support in liberal publications, city councils and state legislatures, and even the House of Representatives, which recently held hearings on legislation to create a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations. These developments present both a challenge and an opportunity for the left, which has been divided between recognizing the clear case for compensating victims of centuries of exploitation and abuse and concern that reparations are politically untenable and potentially detrimental to building a broad-based movement for social and economic justice.
Glasgow, Scotland - Speaking at the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) on November 1, U.S. President Joe Biden said he wants the United States to commit $3 billion toward helping vulnerable countries adapt to climate change. But the administration’s climate negotiators in Glasgow are pushing to keep adaptation financing inadequate. Delegations from more than 190 countries are deliberating on issues that weren’t resolved in the first week of COP26, the largest annual climate-change conference organized under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Climate finance to assist developing countries adapt to a changing world and carbon markets to trade emission reduction credits remain on the table.
Detroit voters favored launching a reparations commission Tuesday, and a proposal to decriminalize psychedelic plants passed by a wide margin. Another, Proposal S, failed with 53.9% voting no to amending a section of the city charter to allow voters to push ordinances that include appropriating money. More than 80% of voters said yes to Proposal R, which calls for the launching of a reparations commission, while 61% of voters said yes to decriminalizing psychedelic plants. Another ballot proposal to amend the city charter to allow for citizen-driven ballot initiatives tied to city spending, Proposal S found no support among nearly 54% of voters, while 46% voted yes. Proposal R asked whether Michigan’s largest city should form a committee to consider reparations for residents, 77% of whom are Black.
To many following the decades-long journey of the United Nations climate negotiations, the 26th Conference of the Parties beginning Monday in Glasgow, Scotland looks like one of the last chances to steer the planet away from the fiery wreck that warming of 2 to 3 degrees Celsius will bring. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirms that the climate is still heading that way, with no way to change course other than reducing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. That warning was reinforced last week by a report from International Red Cross and Red Crescent societies showing that, in 2020, climate extremes like floods, wildfires, heatwaves and droughts accounted for almost all of the 30.7 billion people displaced by disasters.
Robin Rue Simmons had been very curious about the truth of American life as a young person. But it was only after she finished high school, left her native Evanston, Illinois, and returned as an adult — ready to buy a house in the historically Black neighborhood in which she grew up — that she delved deep into her city’s history and fully understood the policies that had kept Black residents poor while enriching their white neighbors. Of course, this isn’t the kind of history that’s taught in school, even if today’s students do sometimes learn unsavory truths about the American empire. Local history is different, perhaps because it can be especially uncomfortable to examine how that empire’s economic plunder shaped our present-day communities.
To people in developing countries, it seems clear, the wealthy countries that caused most of the problem of climate change should pay the most to adapt to it and to solve the problem. But instead, countries like the United States lecture low low-emitting countries to do more while they extract their resources and destroy their forests. For example, Nicaragua was an outspoken critic of the Paris climate talks because they did not go far enough. It is one of the countries most impacted by climate change, yet its own greenhouse gas footprint is one of the smallest. Nicaragua initially insisted that the Paris Accord did not reduce emissions enough (a position that was later adopted by a majority of countries and the IPCC). Dr. Paul Oquist, Nicaraguan Minister and envoy to the talks, insisted in Paris that developing countries should receive the billions of dollars promised by the big greenhouse gas emitters to pay for greenhouse gas mitigation programs.
The U.S. public school system is one of the most unequal in the industrialized world, and New Jersey is no exception, according to a new report by New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP). Due to racist housing practices such as “redlining” and “blockbusting,” many Black and Hispanic/Latinx students do not receive the resources they need to ensure equal educational opportunity in the Garden State. “We have long seen school funding and student outcome disparities that fall disparately by race, disadvantaging Black and Latinx communities in particular,” said Bruce Baker, Ed.D., report co-author and Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University.
The idea of reparations for Black people as restitution for the slavery of our ancestors is a conversation we’ve been collectively having for decades now — many different points have been made as to when and how money is actually distributed. With Adam Harris’ new book, “The State Must Provide,” that conversation is brought up once again, this time directing those funds towards the education system at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The author, an HBCU man himself from Alabama A&M University, was inspired to make the argument after he saw the stark differences between his own predominately Black campus and the University of Alabama in Huntsville — a PWI university with a small fraction of Black students in attendance.
Protesters demanded yesterday that a Conservative MP should hand over his 621-acre sugar plantation to the people of Barbados as compensation for his family’s 200 years of slave owning and trading on the island. Richard Drax, the MP for Dorset South, has said the role of his ancestors was “deeply, deeply regrettable” but resists demands for reparations. As part of this year’s Tolpuddle Festival, a rally organised by Stand Up to Racism, Dorset, at the gates of the Drax family estate highlighted the family’s historic role in slavery. The festival celebrates the Tolpuddle Martyrs, poorly paid farm workers, who were transported in 1834 for organising trade union activities. This is the first time the festival has worked with reparation activists.
Earlier this week, 100 Afghan families from Bamiyan, a rural province of central Afghanistan mainly populated by the Hazara ethnic minority, fled to Kabul out of fear of attacks by Taliban militants. Over the past decade, I’ve gotten to know a grandmother who recalls fleeing Talib fighters in the 1990s, just after learning that her husband had been killed. Then, she was a young widow with five children, and for several agonizing months two of her sons were missing. I can only imagine the traumatized memories that spurred her to again flee her village today, hoping to protect her grandchildren. When it comes to inflicting miseries on innocent Afghan people, there’s plenty of blame to be shared. The Taliban have demonstrated a pattern of anticipating people who might form opposition to their eventual rule and waging “pre-emptive” attacks against journalists, human rights activists, judicial officials, advocates for women’s rights, and minority groups such as the Hazara. In places where Taliban may seem to have successfully taken over districts, they may be ruling over increasingly resentful populac