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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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) ]