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"Belinda's Petition" a perfect primer on the subject of reparations

Feb 15, 2010

from Mike Barber's entry on The Huffington Post:

Only 65 pages in length, Belinda's Petition is exactly what it describes itself to be: a concise overview of the long history of struggle to repair the damage wrought by the transatlantic slave trade, making it a perfect primer on the subject of reparations. Winbush begins with the story of the first formal record of a petition for reparations made in the US, which was made in Massachusetts in 1783 by an ex-slave known only as "Belinda". Belinda, who was about 70 years old at this time and had been kidnapped from her home in Ghana before her 12th birthday, petitioned the Massachusetts legislature for the years of unpaid labour for her former slave master. Belinda argued that Isaac Royall--who had since escaped to Nova Scotia--profited from her labour, which entitled her to lay claim to his estate. She won and was granted £15,12 shillings per year payable from the Royall family estate.

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.

The book ends with an appendix titled Ten Practical Things You Can Do for the Reparations Struggle, which I will simplify here:

  1. Read about the history of the reparations struggle
  2. Join an organization that supports reparations
  3. Ask all politicians running for office if they support reparations for the transatlantic slave trade
  4. Organize a study group in your community on reparation
  5. Keep up with current developments in the reparations struggle
  6. 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
  7. Understand the international dimensions of the reparations struggle (which is not confined to the USA)
  8. 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)
  9. Immediately write a rebutal to any article that opposes reparations
  10. Tell others about those nine

Read the whole entry.

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