Reparations: Governing the Money

If you have not already read the first 2 parts of this series, please see Part 1 – America Supports Reparations, and Part 2, Systemic Reparations to get caught up first!

This week we continue with part 3, Reparations: Governing the Money.

Some of the most common responses to the question of reparations are who will manage the money, who will provide oversight, and what checks and balances will be in place to ensure the money isn’t wasted and, most importantly, reaches the people it is who supposed to reach.

The questions are important for many reasons, not the least of which is the united states government history of not honoring treaties, its own laws, the constitution, and court orders- including from the supreme court.

We know the history of how the federal government reneged on paying formerly enslaved folk for their labor, i.e. 40 acres and a mule. And we have hundreds of years of Native treaties and subsequent lawsuits, highlighting government malfeasance. At the Native American section at the Smithsonian there is an entire section that is solely dedicated to treaties broken by the U.S. Government and the subsequent lawsuits that continue to this day – see last week’s supreme court ruling that wide swaths of Oklahoma are actually still tribal land.

When considering oversight we know we cannot leave it up to the Feds, Wall Street, or non-profit agencies. And we certainly cannot leave it up to well organized billionaires though many currently have large organizations who manage – successfully and otherwise – their own charitable organizations.

What I propose, short of a separate branch of government (See Also “Wanted: A Fourth Co-Equal Branch Of Government For Minorities Only “), we need comprehensive, dedicated, skilled, and national oversight that includes the following areas of discipline that will be led by Black people following a national search. The persons filling the roles will be paid commensurate to level and experience and with federal funding that is protected from politicians:

  1. Investments – Govern market investments based on guiding principles developed in tandem with board of directors, public polling, and long-term stabilized growth strategies.
  2. Distribution – Govern individual & family distribution
  3. Taxes – Individual & Small Business – Required pre-distribution resource for individuals/families, & small businesses
  4. Money Management – Required post-distribution resource for individuals/families, & small businesses for monthly money-management
  5. Financial Planning & Wealth Management – Required post-distribution resource for individuals/families, & small businesses, with long-term focus
  6. Banking – Establish national bank and a national credit union for Black communities
  7. Legal – multiple areas of expertise to represent the Reparations committee and resources for recipients.
  8. Real Estate/Loans – Establish national real estate company w/local branches & agents that serve Black buyers.
  9. Training & Development – Dedicated to post-high school, job retraining, skill development, and career changes
  10. Community Investments – Oversee community development for single family homes, senior living, preschool, enterprise zones, parks, multi-use developments.
  11. Board of Directors – Board to govern all aspects of reparations and reflect expertise in each area, while also including expertise in all disciplines. In addition, board to have rotating political representation, and representation from seniors, community leaders, scholars, historians, sociologists, young people (16+), and marginalized people within our community.
  12. Office of Reporting, Audits, and Accountability – A fully independent group who audits all other groups and provides public reporting on all aspects of reparations.

The above is a template that can be modified after feedback from the Black community.

The key takeaway is that reparations in any form must be governed and managed by Black people.

Black buying power is already over a trillion dollars and reparations will significantly enhance buying power while ensuring Black people have the resources and tools necessary to benefit short and long term spending, savings, and investments.

“Black Businessman.”

There are Black experts in all the fields listed above and it will be critically important that our own people are in charge of the end to end process – with proper governing, audits, public accounting, and standard financial, investment, and tax laws considered and followed.

One more thing that must be mentioned. There are more Black women than Black men in America, more Black women lead single-family households, more Black women are small business owners, and Black women on average have more formal education than Black men (or any group).

Black women though are underrepresented in positions of leadership in corporations.

As part of addressing reparations we should factor that Black women have born an unequal burden due to gender, and therefore gender must be accounted for in all facets of reparations and reparations governance.

The board should therefore be required to reflect Black women equal to their percentage of the Black population, which is currently 52%.

Everything proposed in this post and the other two can be starting points for discussion and deciding on a path forward. What is important to remember is that we have patiently spoken about reparations for 150 years and to this point we have not made it no further than discussing. There are books and scholarly works that deep dive into why – Ta-Nehishi Coates most recently and prominently wrote The Case for Reparations. It is worth your time to read.

This then is a layperson’s view on an implementation strategy template. What is also important to remember and what parts 1 & 2 present: It is past time for reparations, reparations must be systemic, and we need to start now and not wait another 150 years to return what is rightfully ours.

© 2020 by Myron J. Clifton. All Rights Reserved.

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