The timing of my reading Belinda's Petition: A Concise History of Reparations For The Transatlantic Slave Trade by Dr. Raymond A. Winbush (2009) coinciding with Black History Month was completely random, but obviously fitting. Back in December 2009, I shot an interview with Dr. Winbush for my documentary film. Winbush, who is the Director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, was very kind to give me a copy of his book; I immediately bumped to the top of my "To Read" list -- which is a very long list!
From there, Belinda's Petition moves through the different epochs of the reparations movement from the early 15th Century to the present. By correcting misconceptions and exposing myths about the reparations movement, Winbush shines a light on what is arguably the greatest crime against humanity to date.
This history is related without hyperbole and does not attempt to put a soft edge on it. Belinda's Petition is also a crash course on the stories of the revolt aboard the Amistad, the liberation of Haiti, Callie House, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Queen Mother Audley Moore, James Foreman, The Black Manifesto, and still much more.
I wanted to make a point about my reading this history through a particularly white lens; I think there is still some unpacking for me to do before I am able to consciously express what that point would be. I was a supporter of reparations before I read the book. Now, I'm an even better informed supporter. Suffice it to say, this is an important book that everyone should read, including White people. Or perhaps I should say, especially White people. Particularly those who lack a basic understanding of the transatlantic slave trade, its practice and legacies, and what the fight for reparations is really about. As Winbush clearly puts it, the reparations movement isn't about victimization, it's about restorative justice.
The book ends with an appendix titled Ten Practical Things You Can Do for the Reparations Struggle, which I will simplify here:
- Read about the history of the reparations struggle
- Join an organization that supports reparations
- Ask all politicians running for office if they support reparations for the transatlantic slave trade
- Organize a study group in your community on reparation
- Keep up with current developments in the reparations struggle
- Lobby for local "slavery disclosure resolutions" that will aid in the development of lawsuits against governments and corporations that profited from the transatlantic slave trade
- Understand the international dimensions of the reparations struggle (which is not confined to the USA)
- Have viewing parties of films that document the current exploitation of Africans in the world (films such as Life and Debt and Darwin's Nightmare)
- Immediately write a rebutal to any article that opposes reparations
- Tell others about those nine
Cross-posted from Race-Talk.