DSA Afrosocialists and Socialists of Color Caucus (AFROSOC) Statement on Reparations

The subject of reparations for Black Americans has risen to the public consciousness over the past few years, most notably as a defining policy debate around the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates. At our 2017 convention, DSA endorsed the pro-reparations platforms of two organizations:

More recently, at our 2019 convention, DSA passed a resolution calling on all candidates for President of the United States to develop Comprehensive Platform for Black American descendants of Slavery and Jim Crow, from 1619–1965, including:

  • Specific proposals to remedy the economic inequalities affecting African Americans from the aforementioned policies, and others
  • A budget for Reparations and possible sources of funding to support these initiatives
  • A timeline for proposing these policies, including which might be prioritized in the first 100 days of that candidate’s presidency, should they be elected
  • A pledge to promote and encourage the adoption of these policies even if that candidate is not elected.

The case for reparations is clear. For 400 years, Black Americans have been the victims of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, government-organized redlining of Black neighborhoods, exclusion from land grants, home and business loans, and other forms of government-sanctioned discrimination.

Despite the elimination of Jim Crow and openly discriminatory laws against Black Americans a half century ago, Black people and the Black community as a whole still suffer economic, political and social discrimination and inequality. Formally equal treatment on the basis of inequality means the perpetuation of inequality. Reparations for these and other offenses is a current topic of significant discussion during this election.

DSA reaffirms its support for generational and colonial reparations. Slave labor — and the continued exploitation of black and indigenous workers — has provided the economic foundation of the U.S. since its start. Reparations won’t erase the shamefully violent history of our country, or the irreparable damage 400+ years of free labor has caused the black community. It is, however, a means of redistributing wealth to the communities descended from slaves, which could ease the material burdens they face today.

Colonization — and the continued exploitation of people throughout the Global South — provided the economic foundation for the imperialist nations throughout the world. Reparations won’t erase the shamefully violent history of imperialism either, but like generational reparations they are an important means of redistributing wealth to nations who have suffered hundreds of years of economic exploitation.

The original slave trade was international and inextricably linked to colonialism; therefore, any campaign for reparations must have international solidarity and decolonization at its core. Solidarity with migrants and indigenous peoples is essential to achieving a mass movement for racial justice and economic equality, including reparations for black people.

The Afrosocialists and Socialists of Color Caucus (AFROSOC) advocates for and builds power with DSA’s Black/POC membership and their communities. We pursue this work to help build a multiracial working-class base, the only viable strategy for securing a socialist future.

Through public and internal education and agitation, we aim to continue the legacy of the Black radical tradition, as well as the radical traditions of other oppressed minorities. Our goal is to act as a network that will support and develop non-white DSA members as leaders in the organization.