At the heart of our case for reparations lies the claim that White supremacy is best understood as a massive, multigenerational project of cultural theft. In the name of White supremacy, American stole Black bodies from their homes, stole the labor from those bodies, stole the fruit of that labor, stole the wealth from that fruit, and in the end stole the very memory of those it victimized from the annals of the earth. Not only this, American then used its ill-gotten gain to build monuments to its own genius on top of the very graves of the forgotten. This theft, every bit as much as the Declaration of Independence, is the legacy of both Thomas Jefferson and the republic for which he stands.
The notion that White supremacy is fundamentally an act of theft, a culture in which the bodies, labors, and histories of African Americans were stolen and used for the benefit of White Americans, is foundational to the logic of reparations. Without this insight, the work of reparations will continue to be marginal to the work of racial healing. But if people truly see this theft, the work of reparations will be mandatory, not marginal. Because of this, we seek to elaborate on the meaning of this theft by demonstrating White supremacy’s theft of truth, power, and wealth.
From “Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair” by Duke L. Kwon and Gregory Thompson