One of their final events held was called “Black Reparations: Apology, Repair, and Reconciliation.” It presented an opportunity for dialogue between professionals who are all doing work, research, and activism, around how to hold this nation accountable for the harms its caused Black, Indigenous and other communities of color.
“I’m here in this conversation because of the link, the deep link between indigenous folks and enslaved black folks, and their experience, the duality of our experiences at the founding of this country,” said Mea Johnson, who is Mescalero Apache and a community and cultural organizer. “The ways that our stories have been erased.”
In June, Boston became the first major city to offer a formal, if symbolic apology, for its role in trans-Atlantic slavery. Cambridge is also in the midst of this work through its Racial Justice and Equity Commission with two funds, one focused on reparations for the slave trade, while the other is focused on restitution for the war on drugs, according to Saskia VannJames, another panelist as well as a racial and health equity lobbyist and board member at Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council.
“Reparations is not an abstract academia,” said VannJames. “It starts with the people. People have already been moving. We’ve been organizing. We are incredibly thankful for all of our elders and ancestors, for the bread crumbs that you’ve left us, for us to go back and take them and inform them together.”