"Our landscape is littered with iconography designed to romanticize the period of enslavement and to celebrate and honor the architects and defenders of slavery". Bryan Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Right Initiative and he describes what reconciliation and reparations are best in the video I will link below.
The concept of reconciliation and reparations being money is false. Reconciliation in this country, is the acknowledgement of slavery in this country. It's the acknowledgment of Jim Crow laws that continued to enforce white supremacy. It's the acknowledgment of the genocide of Native Americans, and the Lynching of African American people. Its is the acknowledgment and truth that there were years in which African Americans were unable to vote, and own property. Lastly, reconciliation is an acknowledgment of the truth. The cold, and hard truth. It's the part in this country, as Stevenson says, that gets skipped over.
You truly think African Americans today, the descendants of slaves want money? No, most of us could care less about money, because money does not heal. Money is like giving someone a bandaid to cover a bleeding gun wound. No. What I think African Americans need today is the acknowledgment of pain. The acknowledgment that we have lived too long in a system that fails time and time again to acknowledge the truth. Through acknowledging the truth, it brings to the forefronts of our minds that we can not do it again.
(Image from the Lynching Memorial in Montgomery Alabama.)
Reconciliation of truth and pain, will allow our country to officially move forward in seeking justice because it will then allow the meaning of reparations to be fulfilled. Reparation, at the oldest roots of definition is "the action of repairing something." What we would be repairing in this country, is years and years of social, economic, and political injustices that have been allowed through the continuing narrative of white supremacy and a lack of truth. It's overwhelming to think about, but the first step each individual in this country can take, is simply, recognizing the truth. The hard, and deeply unsettling truth, that makes you want to throw up.
Germany has done this. Everywhere you go, there is a symbol of truth. Rwanda has done this, everywhere you go, the people will tell you about the genocide. South Africa has done this, by memorializing and remembering the oppressive apartheid. We too can do this. Let us come to the truth. Let us come to reconciliation. Let us all come to give reparation to the trauma felt by African American communities across this country.
Reconciliation and Reparations by Bryan Stevenson Founder of the Equal Justice Initiative