Paying the debt of reparations to Black Americans is not a new idea. Black leaders have been advocating for them since the 1800s when President Andrew Johnson reneged on the promise of his assassinated predecessor, President Abraham Lincoln, to give each newly freed man 40 acres and a mule to atone for slavery.
However, no one can debate that the reparations conversation has gained more traction than ever. This year, organizers of the REVOLT Summit also decided to tackle the subject. On Sunday, Sept. 25, REVOLT hosted a live reparations discussion with several notable Black activists and influencers.
Entitled “Dear America, Run My Check: The Definitive Reparations Discussion,” the conversation was moderated by journalist Van Lathan.
Panelists included: MC and activist Killer Mike, California Reparations Task Force Chair Kamilah Moore, Push The Line Founder Tezlyn Figaro, Foundational Black American (FBA) Founder Tariq Nasheed, actress and podcaster Erika Alexander, and Nation Of Islam influencer and activist Rizza Islam.
During the event, panelists discussed what form they believe reparations should take, why they are necessary in the first place and more.
Killer Mike said he believes a part of reparations should definitely be land.
“I think it’s a culmination of things, but I think that if you’re not asking for land as a big part of that, then maybe you’re off course,” Killer Mike said. “If Bill Gates, who makes all his money off microchips and computers, is now trying to be the largest landowner in the United States, you know if you want a good sense of where to find some food, follow a hungry dog.”
Killer Mike expounded on his reasoning based directly on the experiences of enslaved Black people.
“Since the cornerstone of building this b*tch took us working for free, we deserve something and what we deserve is grants; and we deserve land grants like Dr. King asked for,” Killer Mike continued. “I would like to walk out of this because I know you don’t solve all of the problems here, but I’d like to walk out knowing that if we don’t deserve anything else, we deserve land, we deserve money, we deserve education.”
Moore then chimed in to offer her expert opinion.
“As an international human rights scholar, there’s a legal definition for what reparations is,” Moore explained before expounding on the five aspects it entails.
“My personal opinion is that you cannot call a reparations package ‘reparations’ unless it includes all five of those forms,” Moore continued. “So it has to include cash; it has to include a check; it has to include restitution; it has to include rehabilitation; it has to include satisfaction and it has to include guarantees of non-repetition.”
Figaro said Black Americans can’t continue to beg for their just due. “In the words of Biggie Smalls, ‘We won’t chase them, we’ll replace them.’ We cannot continue to beg, we have to boss,” Figaro said. “We cannot continue to ask the same leadership that has been specifically in charge of the Democratic Party over the last 60 years to continue to give us what we are owed.”
“And yes republicans are equally responsible … but 90 percent of Black people who actually vote, vote for the Democratic Party,” Figaro continued. “We have to get to the point where now were are putting people in the mix to change the game.”
Tariq Nasheed also explained his lineage-based reparations stance.
“We have our own reparations movement and we can’t include other people because, again, that muddies the waters. But again, I’m all for them getting reparations from the islands that were colonized by the British and the French,” Nasheed said, referring to Black people who immigrated to America.
“Foundational Black Americans are the only group who are non-immigrants,” Nasheed said when asked about the term’s meaning. “They’re the people who built the country from scratch, who didn’t immigrate from anywhere. You are descendants of slaves who built the country. It’s not an organization; it’s not a group; it is a lineage specific to this land.”
One of the more passionate moments of the discussion occurred when an audience member responded to some of Figaro’s comments about entertainers.
“[You have this] passion and energy towards the entertainer [who] don’t know nothing, but it’s an entertainer who put this on today, which is Puff,” said the audience member, who has since been identified as Twitter user @udae718. “Puff made this happen, he’s an entertainer and he’s giving platforms.”
“To me, your energy is like, ‘Oh, they don’t know nothing.’… No, teach them because they have the platform whether you like it or not because the young generation looks to them,” @udae continued.
“I got you brother,” Figaro began in response. “This is when receipts matter. The brother that put this down, Diddy, I consult him, homie. I’m his consultant. Second, when we talk about who got talent, I can freestyle battle you right now on this stage. Ain’t nobody mad at no entertainers; I work with entertainers. We work together to educate each other.”
“See the problem right now is you’re being an example of the problems with entertainers because instead of you listening, instead of you allowing me to school you and teach you, you’re busy talking and performing,” Figaro continued. “You gotta be willing to listen and learn. I’m not taking nothing away from the entertainer. … I work with entertainers. Now the question is, can you work with me?”
The interaction went viral and people weighed in online. There were also some follow-up tweets between the @udae and Figaro.
They seem to have ended on a positive note after @udae apologized and Figaro replied with acceptance and sent him blessings.
During a separate panel at the summit, real estate pioneer Jay Morrison and renowned Atlanta MC T.I. also broached the topic of reparations. Both men weighed in on how Black people should move in politics.
“Honorable Malcolm X said we suffer from political oppression, economic exploitation and social degradation. I believe for us to end our political oppression, we need political unity. This is a healthy debate, but I believe we’re approaching it to micro and not enough macro,” Morrison said.
“I believe if we’re going to unify, we’ve gotta unify first around nationality,” Morrison continued. “We need a Black vote day. We need to vote about who we are as a people. Are we Africans in America; are we Pan Africans/ are we Moors; are we Nation Of Islam? Who is our nationality? What is our flag? What is our constitution” … What are our values?
“Can we be that intentional … about burning down both the master’s houses, focusing on our own house, galvanizing all of our leaders, in one place, at one time, to vote on our nationality, our flag, our values and have a Black vote day in real life,” Morrison asked. “Can we do that?”
“I think it would be helpful,” T.I. replied. “Because I think it’s a lot of conversation right now around reparations and so on and so forth, but as I have been enlightened by brother Jay Morrison, we can’t get reparations because we haven’t been officially classified as a nationality. African American is not a nationality. Black is not a nationality. So you can’t give reparations to people who don’t have an official nationality.”
“So when we speak, when people ask me about reparations, I’m like that’s kind of putting the cart before the horse,” T.I. continued. “So I understand the importance of that, but I also think it has to be detailed instructions, line items, step-by-step of how to achieve this goal, so you will know exactly what you are asking people to do.”
Full recordings of the panels will be released soon, according to REVOLT.
PHOTO: Screenshot from the Revolt video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXIsBMZ6bUU