Friday, July 29, 2005

Wachovia's "Reparations Efforts"

Yesterday, Wachovia announced its feeble attempt to "atone" for its past ties to American enslavement. Wachovia had earlier done a study to show that its predecessor banks had held slaves. "The resulting research revealed that two of our predecessor institutions, the Georgia Railroad and Banking Company and the Bank of Charleston, owned slaves."...they write on their website and for that slaveholding past they are offering to "spend" $10 million in "safe" ways to the NAACP, the National Urban League, UNCF, Thurgood Marshall Fund and ASAALH. Now while all of these groups have been important in seeking justice for Afrikans in Amerikkka, it is the "safe road" to give a paltry $10 million to all six of them (the other is a local North Carolina group) for the purposes stipulated at the above referenced link. Philosophically, this would be $2.25 for the approximate 4 million Afrikans emancipated from enslavement in 1865.

It is clear that corporations will and should be sued to force them to justice in this struggle. It is also important that Black organizations like the NAACP see these "reparations" as a form of "hush money" so that the offending companies won't be sued. White supremacist have historically been very good at dividing Afrikans with gestures of money and it is no different today. Starving two people then offering one of them a crust of bread while letting the other remain on the brink of starvation is a good way to kill *both* individuals and create animosity between them. This divide and conquer strategy has worked during enslavement, apartheid and under *all* systems of white supremacy and continues to exist today...

I've had conversations during the past few days with various people in the reparations movement and meetings will be held with officials in the traditional civil rights groups to discuss these issues. Reparations are *not* just another program to be funded over the next five years and afterwards the company is left off the hook. Boycotts are going to be discussed in these meetings and a highly publicized "don't buy from your former slave owners" campaign will be mounted.

More on this later...


  1. Anonymous3:48 PM

    I remember being a part of a *Shell* boycott in California as a child. Shell gas-station supported the apartheid, but I never saw or heard anything else about it throughout my entire life. I just always avoid buying from them when I can.

    Where do you think future boycotts will take us? It does not appear to me that Shell was even shaken by the boycott. It's like time went on and so did business. As you mentioned "off the hook".


  2. I think boycotts *can* work but they have to be *very* organized. I remember the Shell boycott and it failed it was symbolic rather than organized. It's like the every-so-often spam I get about boycotting *one* gasoline company doing a holiday. Yadda, yadda, people ignore that.

    On the other hand, the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the early '90s boycott against Nike for not having any Blackfolk on their board of directors were very successful. The key is having a popular cause where it is emotional (on the part of the boycotters) as well as economic (on the boycotted) and it gains popular support.

    If 50 customers of Wachovia stood outside a downtown branch in a major city, e.g., Washington, Raleigh, Atlanta, called local and national media particularly TV, or the AP, burned their bank statements and then moved their accounts to another bank en masse, I guarantee it would send shockwaves through Wachovia. In a previous post I cite an example of just *one* Wachovia customer threatening to withdraw her funds from a branch and she got a long distance call from an officer inquiring as to what the problem was. It can work and you will hear more about this later...

  3. Anonymous8:16 AM

    Great work!! Please keep us posted. Man we need that organized email effort. Hope the groups will work together to get this information out. That being said may need to utilize the grapevine methods of the past if they still exist. GH