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'No More Time to Bide': Regional conference on Reparations to be held in PDX

"No More Time To Bide: Restitution, Resolution, Reparations!", a conference on reparations, will be held in Portland from February 28 - March 2, 2003. The event is being organized by the Northwest Regional Reparations Campaign (NRRC). Organizers are seeking co-sponsors and participants.
The legacy of racism against African Americans in the United States is deep and persistent. Brought here as slaves starting in the 17th Century, African Americans have been subjected to oppression, violence, and discrimination from day one. The long, steady struggle for social, economic, and legal equality has brought improvements, but has yet to result in true parity in any meaningful sense. For example, 135 years after the Civil War ended, some African Americans are still denied their Constitutional right to vote in this country, as happened in Florida during the 2000 Presidential election. Anyone who believes that the problem of racism was solved by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, affirmative action, or the appointment of African Americans to high government positions is not seeing the world as it is.

O. B. Hill, an organizer for the Northwest Regional Reparations Campaign (NRRC) here in Portland, characterizes this legacy by saying that "America has some unfinished business". Many issues have never been resolved and "as a consequence, there will never be peace within the continental United States in terms of race and economic conditions" until they are. One part of such a resolution could be the paying of reparations to African Americans who are descendants of enslaved Africans. The topic has raised hackles among right-wing talk show hosts, but the level of denial in this country about racism is high across the political spectrum and reparations have yet to enjoy a thorough, honest, public discussion in the United States. The discussion has already begun globally: reparations were on the agenda at the United Nations Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, in Sept. 2001.

In order to bring the subject to light, the NRRC is presenting "No More Time To Bide: Restitution, Resolution, Reparations!", a conference on reparations, from February 28 - March 2, 2003. Details, including speakers and workshop topics, are still being worked out, but people and organizations in Portland who want to support the conference can get on board now. The NRRC is seeking financial co-sponsorships from such parties, and is currently approaching different groups. Progressive organizations in Portland need not wait, however. They can contact NRRC organizers now.

Reparations are an important topic, and this conference could provide excellent opportunities for those people who oppose racism and support equality to learn more about it and to build alliances with other members of the greater Portland community. As another person on portland indymedia recently wrote on the topic of racism: "No excuses. Find your voice. It is desperately needed." For more information, contact O. B. Hill; phone: 503.288.2940, email: reflections@qwest.net.

Also check back with portland indymedia for more about this conference between now and Feb. 28.

More information/related stories: [ Chronology on the History of Slavery and Racism | The legal basis of the claim for Reparations | White Woman Embraces Black Reparations | In-depth Global Indymedia coverage: UN's World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa (Sept. 1, 2001) | From DC IMC: Thousands Rally for Black Reparations (Aug. 17, 2002) ]

PPRC Voted to Co-Sponsor 15.Dec.2002 00:02

PPRC Volunteer

Portland Peaceful Response Coalition voted to co-sponsor this regional conference on reparations.

never 15.Dec.2002 11:47

White Worker

you'll have civil war before I pay for actions I did not commit, Reparations? Never! the standard of living of black americans is the highest in the world, especially when compared to africa, paying reparations will create more race tension than ever in the USA. Are you willing to pay white "indentured servants" and the Irish reparations as well? By your theory every racial/religious group in the country is owed reparations, where will it stop? It will never work and never happen, people like you creat emore tension by dwelling on the past, work for the future and quit whining about stuff no one living today participated in, its fucking pathetic.

to 'white worker' 15.Dec.2002 12:16

one human

i'd encourage you to come to the conference/workshops and add your voice to the discussions and learn what it is about. i don't encourage you to come and yell and pound your fists but to step forward as a human open for dialogue.

The trouble with this particular campaign 15.Dec.2002 13:53

re-pa-ray-shuns

I will start by saying that I do support reparations for African-Americans and other oppressed people who have suffered major injustices, slavery, genocide, etc., but this PARTICULAR campaign is all wrong-headed, potentially dangerous, and counterproductive.

Why not a more focused reparations campaign that doesn't alienate, but rather brings to the attention of Americans as a whole the injustices that still exist in the system which has links to slavery? For example, I'd support a campaign to expose the prison industrial complex for what it really is, contemporary slavery, by freeing everyone currently in prison on minor drug charges, trumped up charges, and forced confessions using DNA and other types of evidence to clear them. Political prisoners would also be included, of course.

The companies currently contracting with prisons to force prisoners to manufacture their goods which they turn around and sell on the open market for profits would be primarily responsible for paying reparations, not just fines but reparations, to all the wrongly incarcerated and/or their offspring. The state would be responsible for picking up the other part of the tab for gross human rights violations. This campaign would also include a concerted effort to educate the public about the similarities between present day and ante-bellum slavery and constantly drawing parallels between the two periods to make it easier for people to have a conscious awareness and understanding of slavery and its effects on subsequent generations.

With this current reparations model however, a lot of people are being let off the hook. Analysis of the current racist prison industrial complex is placed somewhere on the back burner if not totally ignored. While corporations that were directly involved in the slave trade will be forced to pay up, today's prison industry slave masters are not held accountable at all!

Individual and institutional racism are left out as well. If you closely follow this particular campaign and those spearheading it, you will discover a quite disturbing cynical mindset which essentially believes that "whites as a whole are incapable of attitudinal change or transformation so we might as well just get paid, separate ourselves, and say to hell with them." I view whites supporters of this divisive campaign being equally cynical and some who are even disdainful of people of color and couldn't care less about the fallout they will be creating that will primarily be directed at African Americans. Idiots like the one who posted above this comment will come out swinging without a thorough, comprehensive and inclusive approach to the subject of racial injustice.

Under ths current divisive reparations campaign, the ones who will end up with the reparations money in hand at the end of the day will NOT be those who are suffering now-- the working poor, prisoners, the homeless, the unemployed etc. That money will be headed straight into the coffers of attorneys and the heads of non-profit organizations, purporting to help African Americans, whose professionals and administrators will enjoy nice cushy careers. They are not advocating direct payouts to African American individuals. However, there have been mention of families receiving money, but is that fair when so much fracturing has taken place for so long that it's nearly impossible to trace the family origins of thousands of people? Doesn't "family" also have a right wing ring to it?

I also don't like the way this current crop of reparations campaign supporters keep playing it out in the in the progressive media as "if you don't support this reparations campaign, you are a reactionary or worse, you hate blacks". Or, you may be subjected to a long, patronizing diatribe about how little you know about the history of racism, slavery and oppression, ad nauseum. This is a patently false assumption on the part of these fanatics but it is their knee-jerk reaction whenever someone questions them.

Absurd assumptions like that are proof that the political Left and economic/social justice politics has been successfully hijacked by extremist, identity-politcs nationalist nutbags and career seekers. Beneath the surface of this campaign are people who want to be seen as part of the left but they really are about as separatist as Trent Lott. It will become a potential powder keg ready to blow if more sensible minds don't get together to defeat it and come up with a better, less divisive alternative.