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Where do they stand on reparations?

by Jesse Nevel

Biden, Sanders, Trump: Where do they stand on reparations to the black community? 

The Democratic primary has narrowed down to Bernard Sanders and Joseph Biden. So where do the two Democratic front-runners stand on the issue of reparations to the black community? 

This has been an unusual presidential primary for many reasons, one of the main ones being that the issue of reparations to the black community was debated by the candidates for months. This question that had previously been side-lined as a “fringe” concern was elevated to one of primary significance.  

First of all, let’s give credit where credit is due for this unprecedented political development: to the African People’s Socialist Party and Chairman Omali Yeshitela.

Chairman Omali led a campaign back in the 1980s to make reparations a household word. It has become a popular demand among the masses of African people. Now it has forced its way into to the “mainstream” (or bourgeois) political discussion. A dozen presidential candidates came out in favor of reparations, though they attempted to redefine it in the process and as the Chairman says, “liquidate its revolutionary essence.”  Even bourgeois  journals like Forbes Magazine and New York Times devoted pages of ink to the reparations issue. 

Let’s begin with Biden

Well, Biden’s been making his position clear on reparations since 1975. In a nutshell, his position is “I’ll be damned.” Here’s the full quote:

Mr. Biden told the People Paper, a Delaware-based weekly newspaper, in 1975: “I do not buy the concept, popular in the ‘60s, which said, ‘We have suppressed the black man for 300 years and the white man is now far ahead in the race for everything our society offers. In order to even the score, we must now give the black man a head start, or even hold the white man back, to even the race.’ I don’t buy that. I don’t feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather,” he said. “I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago.”

If you think his position changed over the decades since back in the day when he was hobnobbing with Strom Thurmond, think again. When asked during a presidential debate in September what he would do to repair the legacy of slavery, Biden attacked African parents and insinuiated that African families don’t do enough to encourage their children to go to school. Spoken like a true white nationalist! 

Biden is against reparations because he himself owes massive reparations to African people for his horrendous record of crimes against the black community.

Biden has been a champion of the U.S. government’s war against the African community inside this country, and around the world.  Biden was the senator who authored the Omnibus Crime Bill adopted by the Clinton administration, which flooded African communities with over 100,000 additional police, and escalated the mass imprisonment of African people.  

Biden was such a rabid proponent of militarized policing of African communities that he said he believed that former U.S. president Ronald Reagan was too “soft” on this issue. Reagan is the mass murderer and drug kingpin who headed up the major drug trafficking operation to push crack cocaine into the African community in the 1980s.

Biden also worked as vice-president under the neo-colonial Obama administration. He likes to wear that like a badge of honor. He is proud to have worked in the regime that carried out the mass deportation of more Mexican people than any U.S. president since the colonial theft of half of Mexico in the 1850s by white settlers who stole it at gunpoint. 

He also played a role in the expansion of AFRICOM throughout Africa, the bombing of Libya and the heinous public torture and lynching of Libyan president Muammar Gadaffi. And that’s just scratching the surface. 

Biden has buckets of blood on his hands. He is an enemy to African people and to all of humanity.

What about Bernie? 

So what about the self-proclaimed democratic socialist, Bernie Sanders? Surely he is for reparations, one might assume? Dead wrong.

Bernie was actually the first presidential candidate, back in 2016 and this time around as well, to jump out of the gate loudly and clearly AGAINST reparations to African people.

Bernie says it’s a “non-starter.”  He said that he doesn’t even really know what reparations means. Interestingly enough, that’s exactly what Donald Trump said when he was asked the same question! 

Bernie is a supporter of Israel (he lived there when he was younger), the Jewish State which received billions of dollars in “reparations” from Europe and the U.S. for the Nazi persecution of Jews in Europe, but suddenly he is drawing a blank on the meaning of reparations when it’s applied to black people in the United States.

The hypocrisy of calling oneself a socialist while condemning reparations is astonishing.

No socialism without reparations! 

The African People’s Socialist Party’s Chairman Omali Yeshitela has pointed out that a real socialist is someone who fights for the working class to become the new ruling class, to seize control of the means of production and state power, to displace from power the capitalist ruling class and overturn the system of parasitic capitalism.

Most importantly, the Chairman has explained: the real working class is the African and colonized working class, whose enslaved labor, stolen resources, and conquered lands have formed the foundation upon which capitalism was birthed and sustained. White workers, like all white people, have benefited from sitting on the pedestal of slavery, genocide and colonialism. All white people owe reparations to African people. Genuine white socialists must be committed to fighting for solidarity with Black Power, under the leadership of the African working class. 

Notice the Chairman’s definition of real socialism doesn’t include a minimum wage of fifteen dollars an hour, or student loan debts being cancelled. But it does include reparations, a function of the revolution: the total repossession of stolen value and labor by the African people from whom it was stolen. 

Reparations is the ultimate redistribution of the wealth into the hands of the oppressed peoples of the world. You can’t have socialism without reparations. 

What you would have instead is a guy who calls himself a socialist and rides into power off the wave of increasing support for socialism and revolution, and then gets to work maintaining the status quo of capitalist oppression. 

A recent promotional advertisement for the Bernie campaign declared that “democratic socialism is essentially capitalism with a conscience.”  Capitalism with a conscience is an oxymoron, but the first part of the statement is true: democratic socialism is essentially capitalism. 

Would Bernie just be more of the same, no different from Trump or Biden?  When asked if he would consider preemptively attacking Iran or North Korea, Bernie said without hesitation: “Yes.” 

There’s the answer to your question. 

Beyond the ballot box: Build the movement for reparations to African people

Regardless of what you end up doing in the ballot box, the Uhuru Solidarity Movement calls on the white community to reject the cynical politics of imperialist politicians and to take a genuine stand for reparations to African people.  White solidarity with African liberation and reparations is a truly revolutionary, socialist and anti-capitalist stand.

The African People’s Socialist Party formed the Uhuru Solidarity Movement as the way for white people to take a principled stand for reparations by working under the leadership of the African working class. We organize in our own white communities to build material solidarity with African liberation and self-determination.

What matters is what we do to change the world on a day-to-day basis, outside of the ballot box, in the streets, in our communities, building the mass movement for reparations to African people, in solidarity with power and justice to African people.

Fighting for reparations to African people in the U.S. and around the world is our responsibility and it’s in our interests to join humanity in struggling for a world without oppression and injustice.

Join the Uhuru Solidarity Movement as part of our Reparations Recruitment Week membership drive. Join at

Register for the USM National Convention, “Reparations Uprising” on April 18-19, 2020 where Chairman Omali Yeshitela and Penny Hess, Chair of the African People’s Solidarity Committee will be the keynote speakers.