N’Cobra is marking the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans on the shores of the Virginia Colony in 1619 in a unique way. The organization stepping up its demands for reparations and has themed this anniversary “N’Cobra – 400 Years of Terror: A Debt Still Owed.”
N’Cobra is the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, an organization based in Washington, DC. Founded in 1987, it seeks financial compensation for the descendants of former slaves in the United States.
Here are 10 things to know about N’Cobra and its fight for reparations.
Reparations isn’t just about apologies for N’Cobra. It is “a process of repairing, healing, and restoring a people injured because of their group identity and in violation of their fundamental human rights by governments, corporations, institutions, and families,” N’cobra Online reported. Reparations would help groups that have been injured to repair and heal themselves.
According to N’Cobra, reparations can be in many forms. Anyway it can help address the harm caused by chattel slavery and its lingering vestiges. “The material forms of reparations include cash payments, land, economic development, and repatriation resources particularly to those who are descendants of enslaved Africans. Other forms of reparations for Black people of African descent include funds for scholarships and community development; creation of multi-media depictions of the history of Black people of African descent and textbooks for educational institutions that tell the story from the African descendants’ perspective; development of historical monuments and museums; the return of artifacts and art to appropriate people or institutions; exoneration of political prisoners; and, the elimination of laws and practices that maintain dual systems in the major areas of life including the punishment system, health, education and the financial/economic system,” N’Cobra Online reported.
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Reparations, according to N’Cobra, reparations must be multi-layered and has to reach into legislation. There needs to be “changes in or elimination of laws and practices that allow them to be treated differently and less well than White people. For example, ending racial profiling and discrimination in the provision of health care, providing scholarship and community development funds for Black people of African descent, and supporting processes of self-determination will not only benefit descendants of enslaved Africans, but all African descendant peoples in the United States who because of their color are victims of the vestiges of slavery,” N’Cobra Online reported.
Since slavery has been declared a crime against humanity, N’Cobra wants to make the world aware of its reparations movement.
“This historical victory by those in the global reparations movement marked a new phase and new mode of reparations struggle by people of African descent. Everywhere, those of us in the reparations struggle, began speaking the same language — that the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, slavery, colonialism and apartheid, were not just bad/immoral acts- they were in fact crimes against humanity – ‘the most egregious crimes a government can commit or allowed to be committed against a civilian population.’ Globally we became aware that crimes against humanity have no jurisdictional statute of limitation,” N’Cobra reported.
Slavery affected many corners of the world, and its effects can still be felt. This, said N’Cobra, is why reparations are necessary.
“We became aware that the enormous economic theft is still accruing value to the nations and corporations that usurped the productive output from our ancestors; we also became aware that that the wealth that sits in the accounts of many extremely wealthy white westerners was also wealth passed down generationally from the original criminal usurpers; we all became clearly aware that the dysfunction that is seen in African and African descendant populations globally have their initial causation in the crimes committed against the humanity of their ancestors and that are compounded by continued harmful acts done today,” N’Cobra reported.
The organization issued the “N’Cobra’s 21st Century Reparations Manifesto and Five Injury Areas, outline what areas of the community need to be healed — battling discrimination, economic empowerment, etc.
There has to be some acceptance of responsibility, said N’Cobra. On its website, the group states: “A necessary requirement of all forms of reparations is an acknowledgment by the government or corporation that it committed acts that violated the human rights of those making the claim for reparations. Some groups may want an explicit apology; however, neither the acknowledgement nor apology is sufficient – there must be material forms of reparations that accompany the acknowledgment or apology.”
N’Cobra has a plan on how to achieve reparations and it has been working on it for a number of years through public education, mobilization, organization, and more recently, transformation. “It has organized town hall meetings and rallies in cities throughout the United States, bringing long-time reparations advocates, the newly converted, and skeptics together to talk about the necessity of reparations to obtain racial justice. Its members and leaders have participated in conferences, radio and television programs and people’s tribunals discussing conditions that require reparations and strategies for moving forward,” according to the website.
It also spreads information through its periodic membership newsletter “Reparations Now!” as well as a quarterly news magazine “Black Reparations Times.”
The organization has gotten behind politics and legislation aimed at pushing reparations forward.
“N’Cobra supports legislative initiatives. In 1988, Detroit Advisory Board member, Reparations Ray Jenkins, encouraged Congressman John Conyers to introduce a Reparations Bill. In Washington, the DC Chapter held public meetings to discuss the drafts and provided comments on the drafts to Congressman Conyers. N’Cobra remains committed to the passage of H.R. 40 although Congress has not yet favorably acted upon it… N’Cobra has organized a number of legislative lobby days on Capitol Hill during which people lobbied Members of Congress to support H.R. 40.”
One way to push legislation forward for reparations is through the court system, which N’Cobra has been working. “N’Cobra, along with the Reparations Coordinating Committee and other organizations, is developing lawsuits that raise the issue of the legal right of African descendants to reparations based on the continuing vestiges of slavery. These lawsuits will focus on the many areas in which we as African people continue to suffer due to the legacy of slavery including health, wealth/poverty, education, self-determination and the imposition of criminal punishments,” according to the website.