Gardening for Reparations and Self-Determination
By Kwasi Akwamu
Growing food is an act of self-determination. And most farmers and gardeners already know, eating that which you have produced thru our own efforts is a very powerful experience. It puts us in control over a critical and indispensable part of our human destiny: fueling ourselves with the necessary nutrients to carry out all our other tasks in life.
Still, the way i see it, learning to grow food is more than cultivating for personal nutrition and healthy food consumption. Our people remain a dominated people, trapped by dependency upon the very people who captured, transplanted and enslaved our Ancestors. That very struggle our Ancestors were engaged in is the same struggle We grapple with today, even if the terrain looks different. It is a struggle for REPARATIONS in the most purest meaning of the term: restoring our humanity.
Reparations is more than compensation for unpaid slave labor. More specifically, reparations is the REPAIR of damages/injury incurred from war/conflict. The injuries suffered by Afrikan people from settler colonialism and European imperialism is vast and wide. But if We were to summarize the harm We suffered from white supremacy it would be the loss of our collective (national) SELF-DETERMINATION. That is, the loss of control over our life and destiny has been the single-most damage to Afrikan people. And there could never be a meaningful reparations settlement that does not include our own initiative towards the restoration of national self-determination (self-government).
If that be the case, then a true reparations campaign is an internal struggle for control over our individual and collective destiny. After all, self-determination starts with SELF. No one can put us back in the drivers seat over our own lives but us. This reduces the need for protests and pleas to our historical oppressors. Self-determination cannot be bestowed from others. It cannot be funded and be SELF-driven at the same time. This means We must discover all the ways We can reclaim control over our lives, as individuals and as members of a neo-colonized nation inside the borders of the United Settler States.
This position does not mean that We abandon the struggle for compensation (backpay) for our Ancestors labor, or seek punitive damages for the ill treatment all of our people have experienced here for the past 401 years. The war continues. Compensation aint the same as reparations. Money cannot repair powerlessness restore our self-worth, or defend us against centuries of entrenched hate and false supremacy.
Only the constant and courageous pursuit of self-determination can situate us as serious contenders for freedom and the restoration of our full humanity.
Confidence in our capacity to control our own destiny, to pursue and build our own self-determined nation, is strengthened thru the evolution of our accomplishments achieved thru independent effort and initiative. As such, growing food is more than nutrition. more than becoming the healthiest oppressed people on the planet. Rather, it can and must become a liberating force that can begin to unleash the self-determined impulses that lie deep within us.