For the past few years National Divorce theorists have insisted with brio that American Empire's national debt, entitlements, business and defense assets can be equitably divided if the United States is partitioned into independent red-states and blue-states.
Their enthusiasm evanesces however, when it comes to new Black, Hispanic, or Indigenous Native sovereign states and autonomous zones sharing the reallocation of assets. A Black nation with a nuclear weapon? Unthinkable? Think again.
"How to" case studies like Canada's 1960s Quebecois independence movement that led to the enactment of provincial secession laws are non-existent when Black Reparations are mentioned. We're told 401 K's can be repackaged and made portable, but National Divorce advocates are bereft of formulas to calculate monetary compensation for decades of stolen Black slave labor.
No algorithms hum to data inputs computing the inequities of one-hundred years of legal Jim Crow segregation. What's the problem here? Even the quintessential white nationalist, Richard Spencer acknowledged reparations were owed to the Black Commons for the abomination of slavery.
Not to worry: Black Reparations activists and their allies have done the work. National Divorce proponents of a new North American concert of nations can be briefed if they need to be brought up to speed.
From the 2019 cash settlement paid by Florida's legislature to Black families for rampaging whites sacking Rosewood in 1923, to the $10 million award to Evanston, Illinois Black families victimized by discriminatory housing practices, local activists and Black Nationalists continue to press the reparations agenda.
The modern Black Reparations movement grew out of the 1968 Republic of New Afrika founding convention in Detroit. The RNA called for creating an independent Black nation in five "Black Belt" Southern states, holding a referendum on self-determination, and a federal payment of reparations for damages inflicted on Africans and their descendants for chattel enslavement and Jim Crow segregation.
The Black Commons inherited the right to receive reparatory measures and compensation from the U.S. government for enslaving our ancestors from 1776 to 1865. Moreover, as Ta-Nehisi Coates argued in "The Case for Reparations", compensation is due for the reversal of post-Civil War Reconstruction and the financial and physical harm inflicted on Blacks from federally sanctioned separate-and-unequal segregation from 1877 to 1968.
New Black Nationalists, support reparations for the descendants of Black slaves and Blacks born in the United States prior to 1970, as part of a grand settlement in constructing its nation-building project. Irrespective of the circumstances leading to the formation of independent, Black-led polities--be it American Empire's collapse, civil war, a voluntary or coerced National Divorce partition--reparations are a debt owed that the U.S. government will pay one way or the other.
New Black Nationalists reject Democrat Party and Social Democrats' demagoguery reducing Black Reparations to a grab bag of social reform payouts. Free college tuition, tax credits, debt cancellation, small business funds, and technology transfers read like a congressional omnibus budget bill. It has nothing to do with creating an independent Black nation-state.
Our concept of reparations is not fixated on dollars but far-reaching repairs to the multi-generational material and psychological damage visited on Black individuals, the Black Commons, its social structure and political institutions.
Foremost in the process of repair is the transfer of land to the Black Commons. Land is the enduring asset to create new independent sovereign states, autonomous regions, and independent city-states. Land invests the Black Commons with collective ownership, economic viability, and the foundation to determine our national destiny.
National Divorce activists are pre-occupied with secession and the reconfiguration of existing states. Black Nationalists starting point is an existing Black nation that is stateless and has a ubiquitous national demographic footprint. It is the U.S. federal government that Black Nationalists hold responsible for a reparation's settlement.
The federal government denied the Black Commons the right to choose its citizenship by imposing the 14th Amendment on us. Through legal means, negligence, and graft, they made it exceedingly difficult for free Blacks to access western lands opened by the 1862 Homestead Act. Instead, most of those lands went to newly arriving white European immigrants, speculators, and business barons.
When Federal lands were granted to former Black slaves at the end of the Civil War those edicts were quickly eliminated. General Sherman's Field Order No.15, put 400,000 acres of land in the hands of 40,000 freedman in Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida. The decree was the rescinded by President Andrew Johnson shortly afterwards. The land was returned to its former slaveholders. The U.S. government betrayed the Port Royal Experiment that placed thousands of acres under freedman's control and the Southern Homestead Act of 1866 expanding the 1862 program by setting aside 46 million acres of land for freed Blacks in several southern states. Of the 67,600 homestead applications made under the Southern Homestead Act, only 27,800 received a final patent, and 5,440 patents were awarded to Black homesteaders.
The demand for land to establish a Black republic is not negotiable. How much land, where a Black state or polity is located, access to the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and gulf shipping ports, population transfer provisions, and treaties are all negotiable issues. Land is the basis and birthright of a new Black nation-state and cannot be negotiated away.
New Black Nationalists have been clear. We demand a modified Black nation-state within the geographic zone of the five Southeastern United States, an autonomous zone in California, independent city-states in majority Black cities like Detroit, Baltimore, Jackson, MS, and New Orleans.
The federal government owns close to 620 million acres of land, twenty-seven percent of all the land in the country. Alaska had the most federal land (222.7 million acres). We can adapt to eighteen hours of sunshine in the winter, skiing, fishing, and hunting moose in Alaska's virgin frontier. Then there's Nevada? It has the greatest percentage of federal land within any state in America (80.1 percent). We could take a third of Alaska's federal lands and a quarter of Nevada's for starters. The point is, no matter how you approach the issue of land, there is a deal to be made.
That being said, let us move from land to compensation. What forms of compensation should be prioritized? Who should pay for reparations? Who should receive reparations, and why?
Squaring the Debt
Providing monetary compensation to former Black slaves was never contemplated. At President Lincoln's urging, the only reparations paid by the U.S. government was $300 per slave to white slaveowners in Washington, D.C., who freed their slaves in 1863, and swore loyalty to the Union.
Lincoln incentivized the law by offering any freed slave $100 dollars to migrate to Haiti or Liberia. Two weeks before his assassination, Lincoln was still trying to negotiate the mass deportation of Blacks from the U.S., knowing their status as slaves would be ending with the Civil War's conclusion.
Similar to the U.S. governments' role in restricting Black access to land with the Homestead Act, the ruling class continuously employed systemic barriers to economic inclusion against the Darker Nation. The Social Security Act of 1935, that excluded Black farmers and domestic workers, and the 1935 Wagner Act that sanctioned unions' exclusion of minorities workers, are two examples among many that come to mind.
Black Nationalists don't accept the argument that monetary compensation cannot be awarded to descendants of Black slaves because it's not possible to transfer assets of former slaveowners. It is asserted that it's unfair to use federal government taxes paid by whites whose descendants had nothing to do with slavery. We have news for you: Black people pay taxes too. Do you think it's fair to the Black Common's to subsidize its own reparations?
As will be argued here, the ruling class of American Empire have the monetary and real estate assets to begin addressing compensation issues now.
In 2018, University of Connecticut researcher Thomas Creamer published a new estimate of the value of U.S. slave labor for the 89 years from the country's founding until the end of the Civil War. Based on the wages paid to laborers for an average 12-hour workday, he concluded forced slave labor would approximate $5.9 trillion today.
What does that mean to the Black Commons? Roughly, a one-time payment of $121,000 per person for 47 million Blacks--every man, woman, and child. Other research estimates are higher. But whether paid out over five or ten years, a government payoff of this magnitude is feasible. In scale, it would be equivalent to the cost of Trump's 2017 tax cut for the richest one percent of the U.S. population over a ten-year period.
Creamer's $5.7 trillion dollar estimate for reparations is extremely conservative. It doesn't take into account 100 years of federally sanctioned "separate and unequal" Jim Crow laws that excluded Blacks from the mainstream economy.
California's First in Nation Reparations Task Force
As difficult as it is to quantify reparations for slavery and the Jim Crow era, California's Reparations Task Force, created on September 30, 2020, by the California Legislature attempts to tackle that challenge.
California Assembly Bill 3121 establishes the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans, with a Special Consideration for African Americans Who are Descendants of Persons Enslaved in the United States (Task Force or Reparations Task Force). The purpose of the Task Force is: (1) to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans; (2) to recommend appropriate ways to educate the California public of the task force's findings; and (3) to recommend appropriate remedies in consideration of the Task Force’s findings.
The Task Force consists of nine members. Five members are appointed by the Governor, two members are appointed by the President pro Tempore of the Senate, and two members by the Speaker of the Assembly. Thus far the panel decided upon specific factors in the lives of Black residents that could warrant monetary compensation.
--Limits reparations to descendants of enslaved African Americans and free Black people who were living in the country before the end of the 19th century.
--The government’s unjust taking of property through eminent domain --The devaluation of Black businesses
--Disproportionate incarceration and over-policing Black communities --Discrimination in housing, healthcare and education
In as much as California's economy is the equivalent of the fifth largest country in the world, the outcome of its Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans has landmark implications for its approach, methodology and implementation on a broader scale.
In its deliberations the task force has accepted testimony and research from experts on other reparations movements throughout history, including those for Holocaust victims in Germany, apartheid victims in South Africa, and Japanese American victims in the U.S. whose families were stripped of their assets and incarcerated in prison camps during World War II.
Japanese American Reparations
The Japanese American reparations experience is insightful over the three-decade process to secure reparations. In 1948, Congress passing the "American Japanese Claims Act." Japanese American families filed 26,568 claims for $148 million in requests for businesses and properties illegally seized during the war. A total of $37 million was approved and disbursed. 1978, the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), sued for reparations for $25,000 for each person detained, an apology from the U.S. government, and funds for an educational foundation for Japanese American children.
In 1980, Congress established the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians to study the matter. In 1988, President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act granting $1.4 billion in reparations, and in 1992 the amended bill added another $400 million. All told, 81,800 Japanese American survivors received $20,000 each.
National Divorce and Black Reparations is a natural symbiotic fit.
Just as "wokeness" or "fighting crime" are expressions when mouthed by certain whites and heard by others conjure visions of subversive ideology, and predatory Black marauders, reparations is code for gratuitous giveaways to undeserving Blacks to absolve white liberal guilt.
For Black Nationalists, reparations were always advanced as a central component of a grand settlement, linked to self-determination, independence, and nationhood. Its major components are built on similar categories and taxonomies forming a composite that can serve as a baseline template to partition American Empire. The merger of different models that contemplate sovereign confederations of red-state and blue-states, nation-states for Black, Hispanic, Indigenous Natives, and other non-traditional polities is the expansive architecture of a new concert of nations in the Northern half of the Western Hemisphere.
For New Black Nationalists, National Divorce, partition, and reparations are an integrated whole that all begins with land.