From the Archives: Quit Playin’: Happy Juneteenth?…No Check?

By Vincent L. Hall

MSNBC thought enough of it to do segments featuring Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price’s historic Juneteenth resolution on both the Chris Hayes and Melissa Harris-Perry shows. In talking with Dallas’ first and only Black Commissioner I have come to know that the story broke like wildfire through the daily media carnage and was a particular feature of the Far-Right blogs. I wanted to know from him what he thought about America’s reaction to his action. The Dallas County Commissioners Court approved by voice vote, a resolution that honors the life, death and struggles of African people over this continent and supports reparations for the same. While the local media paints its passage as a controversy, it has not and should not be rescinded in any form.

Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price

On the street, the only question that most African-Americans in Dallas have been asking is “Where’s my check?” (This looks like a good place for the proverbial LOL). You may chuckle when you think about getting a check, but the full details and effect of our history as an enslaved and financially oppressed people at the hands of this country deserve a settlement of punitive damages. As the commercial for J. T. Wentworth goes, “it’s my money and I want it now!!!” We went head-on with the Commish to get his take on the national reaction. “The response has been overwhelming, to say the least. Although I don’t believe I deserve it, I have been greeted with a hero’s welcome throughout this community, throughout the state and across this country. And while I am humbled by all of the attention, it has also imbued a renewed energy that deserves a well-connected national movement on reparations. We have become detached in this community and this experience fleshed that out.” Price did a two-hour-plus interview on Chicago’s WVON 1690which is reminiscent of our lost community powerhouse KKDA.

Not only did the show generate a long litany of callers, Price was surprised by the number of Dallas listeners who hover daily to hear powerhouses like Reverend Al Sharpton and others. “In the wake of the loss of KKDA, the internet has provided some semblance of black unity and it shows that the medium needs to be resurrected in this community. We have got to become better organized and better informed in Dallas and I believe that we can stoke a movement that moves this nation toward paying compensatory damages to its greatest victims.” Commissioner Price’s resolution uses part of a mind-blowing essay recently released by The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates entitled “The Case for Reparations” as the mantle and axis for his argument:

Whereas Writer, Historian and Professor Ta-Nehisi Coates points out in his brilliant academic essay, ‘The Case for Reparations’ that African Americans have ‘endured 250 years of slavery, 90 years of Jim Crow, 60 years of ‘Separate but Equal,’ 35 years of racist housing policy’ after the Civil Rights Bill,

and Whereas slavery, discrimination and egregious impediments to building or sustaining wealth were legislated and condoned by the United States government in all three of its constitutionally affixed branches,

and Whereas today according to the Pew Research Center, White households are worth roughly 20 times as much as black households and whereas only 15% of whites have zero or negative wealth, more than 35% of blacks fall below that line, and Whereas the entrenched gap and wealth is highlighted by the fact that black families making $100,000 typically live in the kinds of neighborhoods inhabited by my wife’s families making $30,000.

Therefore, be it resolved that Juneteenth and its historical mimicking of freedom are just that, and the United States of America is derelict in its promise to ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness’ to African American people.

Be it further resolved that the dereliction that has caused 400 years of significant wealth to millions and significant suffering to the descendants of those slaves who built this country be satisfied with monetary and substantial reparations to the same.”

Nuff said. They need to quit playin’ and cut my check!!!

Originally published Juneteenth 2014…Still relevant.