The last few months Ive been working with Essence.com's Black in America website, posting stories from the magazine on the Black experience in this country. One of the last stories I pulled was on reparations. And I know lot of folks eyes glaze when talks of 40 acres and a mule come up, like its beating a dead horse (no livestock pun . . seriously).
But this article checked me real quick, as it wasn't about looking for a handout, but strategically approaching big businesses who can directly relate their millions in profits to the backs of enslaved people.
And the last sentence of the article startled me as it said big businesses like Bank of America had already given money to Howard University, the NAACP and other institutions while acknowledging slave labor paid a part in their success.
I went to Howard on a academic scholarship from the University. At first thought I felt a mix of emotions knowing my debt-free status may have come at the hands of enslaved Africans (I don't like to use the word slave to describe a person, but that's another post). Then I felt a sense of connection and responsibility. It wasnt about me. Someone else gave their life and freedom for me to get educated. Time to step it up for real. Last Thanksgiving, heading back from the mall on Black Friday, I made my cousin Rob pull over as we passed by these big cotton fields. They stirred emotion in me as I could sense Black people working in these fields, which in history, was just yesterday. We snapped a few shots. Armed with a college degree, I pulled my first piece of cotton in memory of folks who dreamed of a better life that we live every day .