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ADOS Reparation FAQs

Q: What does
reparation mean?

A: Per the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “reparation is the act of making amends for wrongdoing; something done or given as amends or satisfaction; the payment of damages.”

Q: What are the unique wrongdoings that merit reparations for ADOS?

A: The ADOS Reparations claim refers to redress for the U.S. government-sanctioned institution of chattel slavery from 1776 – 1865 and the failure of the federal government to adequately protect the 4 million formerly enslaved persons and their progeny during the Reconstruction Era of 1866-1877. The chief act of negligence at this time was the revocation of material compensation (e.g., 40 acres). These people were trafficked to America, and their descendants were bred domestically. Though many stakeholders existed in the Trans-Atlantic and domestic slave trades, the federal government was ultimately culpable for allowing the inhumane institution to persist in the new nation. As such, the ADOS Advocacy Foundation advocates for reparations for the descendants of U.S. chattel slavery to be paid by the federal government for harms including but not limited to: 

  • U.S. Chattel Slavery from 1776 – 1865.
  • The forced labor of the enslaved population for 89 years in the newly formed country.
  • The inability of the enslaved to patent or prosper from their inventions.
  • Mental, physical, and economic abuse.
  • Lack of body autonomy: the rampant rape of enslaved women and men, enslaved women forced to nurse their enslavers’ babies, and enslaved people forced to have sex with one another to increase the slave population. 
  • The commercialization of enslaved families. 
  • The sale and separation of enslaved families for business purposes. 
  • Medical experimentations on enslaved people and their cadavers.
  • As a result of enslavement, our ancestors could not take advantage of the 1862 Homestead Act and—owing to anti-Black discrimination post-slavery—subsequent land grant initiatives
  • The failure of the federal government to protect and provide for the newly freed after the Civil War in 1865. 
  • The failure to maintain Reconstruction Era policies, such as the promise of 40 acres to the newly freed population.
  • Widespread and unchecked lynchings by white mobs and white supremacist groups like the Klu Klux Klan. 
  • Massacres were conducted by white mobs within Black communities (e.g., Colfax, Wilmington, Leflore, Vicksburg, etc.). 
  • Land theft and sharecropping
  • Convict leasing

Q: What are lineage-based reparations and why do they matter?

A: A lineage-based claim is the most precise and legally sound concept in pursuing ADOS Reparations. Just as certain unique genetic traits are passed down from ancestor to subsequent descendants, the unique economic disadvantage that the institution of U.S. chattel slavery established for our ancestors has been transmitted from generation to generation exclusively within our group. Our experience in America is inseparable from the event of slavery, its massive economic consequence, and its enduring legacy. And so, in our political project of repair, lineage—beginning with our ancestors who were first subject to chattel slavery’s plundering nature—is how we identify who bears the full measure of that cost.  

Q: Who qualifies for ADOS Reparations?

A: A person must 1.) Be a citizen of the United States of America and have identified as Negro, Colored, Black, or African American throughout their life on government documentation; 2.) Present a government-issued ID, birth certificate, or census record identifying a direct ancestor as Negro, Colored, Black, or African American before 1965; and 3.) Trace their ancestry to at least one person that identified as Negro, Colored, Black, or who was an enslaved person in the United States between 1776 – 1865.

Q: What will ADOS Reparations include?

A: Remedies must encompass comprehensive financial, land, education, mental health services, and reparations protection programs. In addition, a new federal agency must be created to administer and oversee the program, including assisting participants with verifying their eligibility.

Q: Where did the $20 trillion figure come from?

A: In 1990, Dr. David H. Swinton developed a formula for estimating the cost of slavery. One of the components of his formula is the “value of labor expropriated (EL).” Later, Dr. Thomas Craemer expounded on the EL metric with his wage-based estimation. In 2022, Craemer’s conservative 3% compound interest rate used to calculate the debt for unpaid slave wages was estimated to be $20 trillion. At the ADOS Advocacy Foundation, we advocate for the $20 trillion amount as a baseline to be distributed to eligible recipients.

Q: Does the ADOS Advocacy Foundation support local reparations initiatives?

A: Our aim at the ADOS Advocacy Foundation is to create a piece of federal legislation that can comprehensively satisfy our community’s needs. We view local reparations programs as a contradiction and very unlikely to achieve their stated purpose of compensating for the economic legacy of slavery. This is because states and localities confront enormous budgetary impediments concerning direct cash payments, the most symbolically and materially significant component of any repair initiative for past harms. Moreover, it seems that those states or localities that do pursue reparations programs for slavery and ongoing discrimination have focused their efforts exclusively on the latter set of harms, most often via programs that seek to redress victims of unjust housing policies that began in the latter half of the 20th century. In many cases, these offenses were not unique to ADOS. This potential for competing, identical claims to be filed by other groups is at odds with our purpose here at the ADOS Advocacy Foundation, which is to ensure that any reparations policy encompasses the fullness and singularity of our group’s victimization, which must involve the original harms suffered under the institution of chattel slavery.

In addition, Congress has introduced legislation (H.R. 4321) to prohibit the United States Government from providing bailouts or other financial assistance to any State or local government that enacts laws providing reparations for slavery. This bill is designed to prevent local governments from passing reparative initiatives. Even if policymakers believe local reparations to be just, supporting them would immeasurably impact their local economies and ability to govern.

Q: What should advocates do when a local reparations initiative begins in their area?

A: We encourage advocates to become members of the ADOS Advocacy Foundation and join their local chapter. This way, one would have access to organizational resources that would aid them in garnering support from community members and local legislators in developing resolutions that support a federal reparations program. 

ADOS Timeline

Enslaved throughout American history

1600s

Start of Slavery

1700s

Declaration of Independence

1800s

Emancipation Proclamation

1900s-Present

Jim Crow - Mass Incarceration