Boycott JP Morgan Chase Student Loans!
Since JP Morgan Chase refuses to settle a slavery restitution case, students, hip hop artists, and diverse activists are calling for a boycott of the bank's student loans, which earn JP Morgan Chase over $9 billion a year.
Since JP Morgan Chase refuses to do the decent thing - settle a slavery restitution case pending in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago - students, hip hop artists, church leaders, elected officials, and reparationists are trying to reach the corporation through the only thing it seems to value: its bottom line. JP Morgan Chase and its subsidiary, Bank One, are the #1 student loan providers in the United States. Therefore, activists are calling for a boycott of the bank's student loans, which earn JP Morgan Chase over $9 billion a year.
The campaign, entitled "One Student," is being coordinated by the Restitution Study Group, a New York non-profit headed by Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. In 2000, she launched the movement for corporate restitution for slavery when she exposed that Aetna Inc. wrote life insurance policies on the lives of enslaved Africans with slave-owners as the beneficiaries. In 2002, she filed the landmark reparations case against corporations, which is currently on appeal. The lawsuit demands that a humanitarian trust fund be created to heal the injuries descendants of slavery suffer today as a result of slavery - i.e. urban poverty, inadequate healthcare, and lost housing, employment, educational, and business opportunities.
As Farmer-Paellmann explained in a December 5th press conference and rally at JP Morgan Chase headquarters in New York City, there is extensive evidence linking the bank to the enslavement of over 14,250 Africans. When, due to Chicago's Slave Era Disclosure Ordinance, the bank was forced to reveal its complicity in slavery or lose lucrative vendor contracts with the city, it admitted that 13,000 enslaved Africans were used as collateral for loans from the bank and that they had owned another 1,250 enslaved Africans.
"JP Morgan Chase amassed enormous wealth off the backs of enslaved Africans," Farmer-Paellmann stated. "It participated in institutionalized terrorism, genocide, rape, torture, and theft of humans. It owes us restitution, but refuses to pay. It has left us no choice but to boycott."
The Restitution Study Group is also going to demand that Elliott Spitzer, the Attorney General of New York State, and Attorney Generals in the other 49 states hold hearings to find out exactly what JP Morgan Chase's role was in the institution of slavery, what their profits were, and what those profits are worth today. "We want to bring the CEO before a grand jury, and under penalty of perjury, have him reveal what their profits were from slavery," Farmer-Paellmann concluded.
One of the lead attorneys in the case is Carl Mayer, former Special Counsel to Attorney General Spitzer. Mayer is a prominent consumer advocate who played a key role in the Supreme Court victory in the case against Nike for making fraudulent statements to consumers about its role in inhumane labor practices in its overseas factories. He promises to take this case all the way to the Supreme Court too if necessary.
Mayer spoke about the fact that while JP Morgan Chase apologized for its role in slavery, it does nothing more than offer a measly $5 million scholarship fund. "That is a mere trifle to this institution," Mayer declared. "Let's just do the numbers."
He explained that JP Morgan Chase has $1.2 trillion in assets. Therefore, $5 million is only one 1,000th of 1% of that - an amount so infinitesimal it's hard to even grasp. Another way to break it down, Mayer said, is to look at it in relation to what JP Morgan Chase pays its CEO: $50 million last year. "I think they could part with more than the equivalent of ninety days of their CEO's salary if they wanted to make a real gesture for the heinous acts that their bank committed in the past," he stated.
Mayer pointed out, too, that that if you take it back to 1831 when JP Morgan owned enslaved Africans, $5 million amounted to about $400. "This means that in this bank's opinion, the life of each slave is worth roughly 33 cents. That's an outrage in terms of what they're offering to deal with this litigation," he concluded
Students and reparations activists on campuses around the country are distributing flyers entitled, "Ten Reasons Why Students Should Boycott JP Morgan Chase Student Loans." Divine Shabazz, a student leader at Southern Connecticut State University, noted, "Our campus has 29 different preferred student loan lenders. Four are slavery banks that should be boycotted - Chase, Bank One, Bank of America, and Wachovia. That leaves 25 better choices for our student loans."
Nana Soul, a youth singer and activist with Artists and Activists United for Peace, said that she found the rally inspirational because it is grass roots organizations and individuals who must spearhead the reparations movement. "This is a movement that's going to be built from the ground up, just like we built this country," she declared. "If we did it once 400 years ago, we can do it again. But this time the building is going to be a righteous one because we're going to obtain the freedom we have been fighting for."
Another powerful speaker was artist/educator/actor Yaa Asantewaa Nzingha, who was terminated by the NYC School System for teaching African children born in America to call themselves Africans. She said that she supports reparations as a tool for repairing the damage - the meaning of reparations - that has been done to children's minds. "When I was teaching, many of the youth felt they were incapable of learning subjects like math and science because of the propaganda that had been forced on them in American society," Nzingha stated. But she would explain to the youth that they are African so they had to be great scientists and mathematicians because their people created these things. "This is in your blood," she would tell them.
Also attending the rally was Queen Mother Dr. Delois Blakely, who poured the libation and demanded reparations in the name of the ancestors. Present too was Leslie Brown, producer of the excellent documentary film Untold Legacy, which focuses on the effort to pass a Slave Era Disclosure Ordinance in New York City, modeled on the Chicago law that compelled JP Morgan Chase to disclose its ugly past. "It's crucial that we educate as many people as possible about JP Morgan's history of enslaving Africans so all people of conscience can join in this boycott," she commented.
For more information, visit the "One Student" website at: http://www.onestudent.us/.
Read more of Donna's articles at http://www.donnalamb.com/
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