Who Will Be Eligible For Reparations?

Juneteenth rally to demand reparations from the US government. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Report On The Meeting Of The African Heritage Reparations Assembly, November 7, 2022

As a basis for discussion of eligibility for reparations, Shabazz submitted a position paper with his thoughts on the topic. The paper was distributed shortly before the meeting, so will be discussed in more detail in coming weeks.

Shabazz’s explanation of his paper stressed that he wants the criteria to be inclusionary. He outlined three standards to define eligibility, all of which would need to be met to qualify,  based on the Darity-Mullen proposal for federal reparations. William “Sandy” Darity, Jr. was a 1969 graduate of Amherst High School.

  1. Residence: People who live in Amherst, including those temporarily living out of town, such as college students or those in the military, who plan to return.
  2. Lineage: People who have an ancestor who was enslaved in the United States should be prioritized, but others, such as those who emigrated from the Caribbean in the late 1800s, should not be excluded.
  3. Identity: People who have identified as African American for at least 12 years and have documentation to show that this is their self-identified race. Shabazz hopes there will be a fund to help Black Americans research their genealogy and DNA.

Citing the difficulty of determining identity and lineage, AHRA member Alexis Reed noted that her Black mother originally noted Alexis’ race as white on her birth certificate to presumably confer advantages to her. Her research into her white genealogy goes back to General Robert E. Lee, but her Black ancestors are more difficult to identify. 

The AHRA will continue to discuss standards for reparations at its meeting on November 14 at 3 p.m

Kwanzaa Events Being Planned
African Heritage Reparations Assembly (AHRA) member Amilcar Shabazz announced that plans are being made for a week-long celebration of Kwanzaa in the region. Amherst’s event will most likely be held on December 31 at a venue to be determined. Those interested in performing are encouraged to contact Shabazz at amilcarshabazz@gmail.com.

Bridges Contests Claims Made In Publicity For Mojuba Event
AHRA member Debora Bridges said she was “deeply disturbed” at the publicity flyer for the November 6, 2022 Mojuba event https://www.amherstindy.org/2022/10/28/mojuba-event-honoring-african-ancestors-will-feature-discussion-of-amhersts-reparations-efforts/ sponsored by Bridge4Unity, which claimed that this was “likely the first public event in Amherst that incorporates honoring Black ancestors.” Bridges pointed out the Juneteenth celebrations in 2021 and 2022 and the Ancestral Bridges exhibit at the Amherst History Museum that recently ended.

Bridges said that the reason she joined the AHRA was because the stories of the Black ancestors of Amherst were not being told in the early reports of AHRA, and she wanted to bring awareness of their contributions to the history of the town. Because she was unable to stay for the rest of the meeting, further discussion of the topic was postponed, but Shabazz did say that the statement attributed to him was taken out of context and that he was part of the Juneteenth celebrations, so was well aware of them. He added that the Mojuba celebration, based on a Yoruba tradition to honor African ancestors, was successful. He will bring the input from the small-group discussions held at the event to a future AHRA meeting.

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