The philosophy of ADOS

ADOS. A growing movement …

There is a steadily growing movement within the Black American branch of the African Diaspora referred to as ADOS; American Descendants of Slavery.  The movement was started by Yvette Carnell, editor and creator of the internet site, Breaking Brown; and Antonio Moore, an attorney and creator of the online site, ToneTalks.  The movement’s primary goal is to obtain reparations for the descendants of slaves brought to what is now called the United States and for the federal government to streamline existing economic and civil rights policies as well as implement new policy aimed specifically at Americans who can claim a lineage from slavery.

The specific philosophy …

ADOS was established to make a public policy case for reparations.  As Attorney Moore points out, from a legal perspective, reparations requires a victim and the victim in this case would be the descendants of slaves brought to present day United States.  Blacks brought to present day America from Africa as slaves built the United States economy, argue Ms. Carnell and Mr. Moore, and for this reason, ADOS excludes from its narrative blacks from the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa.

Ms. Carnell and Mr. Moore are purposefully narrow in their view of America’s relationship with Black America. They see other ethnic groups benefiting from public policy that, in their opinion, was designed for the benefit of Black Americans, i.e. civil rights legislation, affirmative action programs, etc., where blacks are pushed down lower and lower on the benefits ladder while other groups, i.e. women, immigrants, the LGBTQ community garner more attention and resources.  “ADOS is about having a specific conversation about ourselves”, says Mr. Moore.

The first hurdle to establishing ADOS’ philosophy as policy: black people …

Blacks are still learning about ADOS and the ones that have gained some familiarity with the initials if not the founders or the underlying concept of reparations are taking offense to the notion that blacks should view their lineage as having started in slavery.  A number of my friends have expressed this sentiment, disturbed that ADOS does not appear to take into account the history of blacks in Africa prior to being brought to the western hemisphere as slaves.

But how this position regarding the term “American Descendants of Slavery” impacts the endgame of reparations is not clear.  For the last three decades my take on reparations was mostly that of a pipe dream driven primarily by emotions and no foundation in law.  Chattel slavery was legal as far as colonizing European nations were concerned and I didn’t see how moral arguments or emotional outcries regarding the treatment of our African ancestors would gain traction in the late 20th century with people of European descent who either benefited from the capital slavery helped their ancestors generate or whose ancestors arrived after slavery was abolished.

Blacks who occupy the conservative end of the political spectrum may argue that the push for reparations only gives whites an empowered status they do not deserve while relegating blacks to a lower “seeking a handout” status.  Rather, they may argue, blacks should follow the example of enterprising blacks and carve out their own niche via hard work, using the resources currently made available by America. In short, forget reparations.

I expect a significant number of white Americans will be opposed to reparations and that they will likely parrot the conservative argument mentioned above. As they comprise a majority of the electorate, I surmise that their position will weigh the heaviest on any decision made by Congress to pass legislation on reparations.  Congress may not be able to come up with a social policy rationale strong enough to survive the legal scrutiny that is likely to occur should some type of reparations legislation gets passed.

But it’s too early to say reparations won’t happen …

The likelihood of reparations legislation passing in the Congress is near non-existent at this point in time and the most that can be said right now is that black descendants of African slaves advocate for reparations through a lens carved out of the inequity of building a plantation economy without compensation; pain and suffering from rapes, beatings, and lynchings; and 150 years of discrimination and civil rights violations.

What is being seen through this lens, this philosophy of reparations, must be inserted into a clear narrative or policy-based argument.  Right now, without further research, I don’t see an analogical or rules-based argument being used either in support of legislation or in crafting a rule in court that would protect reparations from being challenged.

 

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Gentrification is white nationalism that may be vanquished by monetary and fiscal policy

The Eye Catcher …

This morning I listened a bit to an interview conducted on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal with Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  Ms. Clarke’s purpose for appearing on the show was to discuss the rise in white nationalism in the United States.  As I listened to the discussion I found no new foundation for Ms. Clarke’s concern.  The concerns regarding white nationalism, as expressed by Ms. Clarke and other civil rights advocates, have always come from a place of fear, pain, and suffering: the fear of physical violence perpetrated by a racial majority on a racial minority; the pain of past and perceived current wrongs; and the suffering endured as a result of discriminatory practices in housing, financial services, the labor markets, and the legal system.

Another eye catcher was the diverse group of constituents Ms. Clarke’s organization represents.  About 25 years ago, I visited a friend who worked for Lawyers’ Committee.  She proudly showed me around the office, sharing a little of the history of the organization’s founding; sharing with me that its roots stemmed back to a civil rights initiative by the late President John F. Kennedy to strengthen the legal protections for black people.  That initiative seems to have changed and all for the worse for blacks.

Today, the Committee’s agenda seems to have expanded.  Their agenda has broadened to include every group under the sun that claims to be marginalized: white women, the LGBTQ community, Asians, etc.  I would hazard an ironic guess that if you looked at the wealth accumulated by each of these groups in comparison to blacks that blacks would still be on the bottom of the totem poll.

When this expanded agenda combines with the factors of fear, pain, and suffering, they create a weak platform from which to launch any initiative toward black empowerment.  The platform is weak because of the limits it places on blacks. Fear does not embolden. It causes you to hesitate.  Worse, it may cause you to rely on others, particularly those others who claim that they, too, suffer from inequality, but whose agenda, history, and lineage differ from yours so drastically that when they, these other groups, see progress, they will quickly abandon you.

Most times I believe this “We are in the same boat” argument is nothing but a delay tactic, keeping the weaker group distracted long enough until the weaker group is not even left with crumbs.

Blacks are too easily distracted by emotional buzzwords ….

Groups like the Lawyers’ Committee, National Urban League, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have played expertly on the fear, pain, and suffering of the black community.  They have defined “white nationalism” in emotion-invoking terms, where minorities are expected to shudder in the face of hateful language or crime.

It is expected that threats of physical harm would invoke fear, but what social justice organizations and white liberals fail to accept is that blacks can effectively defend themselves against white nationalism, and that the United States was founded on the principle of acquisition by discovery where European philosophy was deemed so superior that indigenous tribes in North America could be cleared away like so much brush.  White nationalism is global and has been handed down over the last 520 years from the original European settlers of North America to their descendants via various institutions that create the platform for this current political economy.

Yes, white nationalism is about members of the “white race” asserting their dominion over a particular political and geographical space.  But if this behavior is so offensive to blacks to where changes in that behavior is requested, then becoming emotional about whites yelling hateful words and expressing a desire for a “whites only” country won’t get blacks very far.  It is time for blacks to apply critical thinking and develop and promote legal and public policy frameworks for addressing white nationalism.

Gentrification is white nationalism …

One form of white nationalism that Blacks can cut their teeth on is the concept of gentrification.  Gentrification is more than just whites and other non-blacks moving into formerly black neighborhoods.  Gentrification is the result of favorable monetary policy that has driven down interest rates making cheap credit available while increasing the value assets such that these assets support the issue of new debt.  Rising home values and the increased down payments required for mortgages squeeze blacks out of home ownership.  The result is the creation of an environment where whites can leverage cheap capital to increase wealth through property ownership while blacks are forced, via higher property values, rents, and property taxes, to move out.

Toward a legal framework to battle poor monetary policy … 

Rather than having existing black members of Congress lead fruitless emotional belly-ache charges in the media about affordable housing, private citizens should explore and initiate where feasible the legal action necessary for modifying how the Federal Reserve, the Congress, and the Executive are regulating the economy.

For example, the Full Employment Act of 1946 as amended by the Humphrey Hawkins Act of 1978 places the responsibility of managing the American political economy in the hands of the Federal Reserve, the President, and the Congress.  Are these institutions meeting their goals pursuant to the Act? Have fiscal and monetary policy as implemented by the Federal Reserve, the President, and the Congress resulted in increased burden on black citizens?  Should there be remedies?

Conclusion: It will take bravery …

The current initiatives by so called civil rights groups are not aggressive enough.  They are driven by emotion and aim more for symbolism than substantive results.  A more robust legal approach to wealth creation is necessary if blacks are to carve out a sustainable economic niche in America.