Saturday, July 16, 2005

Boycotts, Writing and Reparations

Yesterday, I finally finished the 10,000 word essay on the history of reparations for the Schomburg in New York. It will shed light on how the reparations struggle is a "river" through the history of Afrikans in Amerikkka. I'll put the finishing touches on it this weekend.

I received a call early on Friday from a friend of mine who had taken a telephone survey from Wachovia Financial Services. During the survey she told the interviewer that she wanted to know what Wachovia was actually going to do now that they had disclosed and apologized for their direct connection and profiteering from the TransAtlantic Slave Trade. She also told them that she would be moving her funds from Wachovia if something "tangible" was not done. The interviewer was alarmed and told her that she would be receiving a call from a "higher up" concerning her "concerns".

She did. From her conversation it is clear that Wachovia and other corporations involved with the enslavement of Our Ancestors are terrified of the mention of a boycott. I was impressed with my friend telling the "higher up" that from a business standpoint it made no sense for her to continue doing business with a corporation that had only apologized and not done anything substantive about its crimes against humanity. The "higher up", of course said that the apology was a big deal (it isn't) and that a major meeting will be held "next week" concerning "this matter". She also had given the Wachovia executive my phone number to call and discuss this matter further.

He hasn't called (and I doubt if he will) because these folks are protecting the business interests of their corporations.

Within three minutes of hanging up the phone, I received a telephone call from a Brother identifying himself as a "reporter" from a major southern newspaper. Coincidence? I'm not sure. Though Afrikan, he asked some terribly naive questions about reparations. Though not totally skeptical, he clearly felt doubts about whether they would be won. I'm always struck how some middle-class Afrikans feel that reparations are a "handout" and have nothing to do with justice. It would be like someone breaking into your home, stealing everything, trashing it and when you have a postitive ID of the intruder, they "apologize" to you. After you start the process of restitution however, they accuse you of of wanting a "handout"! Reparations have nothing to do with a handout, and everything to do with the inherited privilege that white Amerikkkans enjoy as they built their individual, collective and ultimately inherited wealth on the benefits they received from the TransAtlantic Slave Trade.


  1. Anonymous8:32 AM

    Is the essay to be included in an exhibit, publication.. Boycott of financial institutions would be a wonderful thing, getting the support of Africans from throughout the diaspora in America alone would be a nirvana

  2. Yes, I will be announcing its publication shortly. It will be online so that it is easily accessible.

    Thanks for your comment!


    Ray Winbush

  3. Anonymous11:54 AM

    How can one find out if their banking institution or place of employment is included as an organization that participated in benefitting from slavery?

  4. It is *very* difficult because corporations are reluctant to disclose such information. This is one reason why the "slavery disclosure" laws have worked so effectively in cities such as New York and Chicago. There are laws in those cities as well as 35 others that say that if a company *does any business* with the city it *must* disclose its ties to slavery. This is why Wachovia and JPMorgan apologized, because of this law being strictly enforced in Chicago by Councilwoman Dorothy Tillman. For further on this see:

    I would simply *ask* the bank both verbally and in writing for its ties to slavery. Be prepared for a knee-jerk reaction to your question, but it will be the beginning of a dialogue. Also, let me know what they say since this information is critical to the struggle.



  5. Anonymous12:58 PM

    I will let you know what I find out as soon as possible.