Observing the mitzvah of reparations
A Message from the Grassroots Reparations Campaign (an initiative of the Truth Telling Project)
When I reflect on all that the work of Grassroots Reparations Campaign (GRC) means to me, I bring the awareness that 1) there is no better vessel of healing love than the path of reparations, and 2) GRC is a perfect vessel for creating a culture of repair and observing the mitzvah of reparations for the ongoing legacy of harms from anti-blackness.
During the Festival of Lights this year, as we light a new candle each evening, let us dedicate the increasing number of flames to the work of designing and mapping out our specific path of repair. Grassroots Reparations Campaign can help us on this path. As its Reparationist Pledge reads.
- I pledge to approach reparations as a healing journey.
- I pledge to acknowledge and work to heal the legacies of moral and material harm that originated with the transatlantic slave trade and continues to manifest harm in Black communities.
- I pledge to learn more about America’s history of racism and its foundation of chattel slavery.
- I pledge to learn more about how structures and institutions built on slave labor continue to disenfranchise people in the African diaspora as well as devalue Black lives.
- I pledge to act in ways that limit institutional complicity in violence against Black People. (This may mean divesting from investments that harm Black People. What can I divest from in my life?)
- I pledge to be sensitive to the intersectionalities of the harms of racism. (Queer, Black transpeople often experience a multiplicity of harms that intersect and increase the harm of anti-black oppression.)
- I pledge to participate in reparations in my local community and encourage my networks to do the same, guided by the analysis and leadership of black-led organizations and individuals.
- I pledge to take this message to my family, friends and community with love rather than through guilt or shaming. I pledge to undo racism within my own faith-based community according to the principles articulated in this pledge.
What do these eight promises mean to you, to your family, your community? While, ceremonially, we kindle flames to increase the number of lights in the world, let us also have a conversation about reparations and what actions we may take to carry out the pledge. E.g. each night, you could designate a black-led business, institution, or group to support with Hanooka Reparations gelt! The Hebrew word “Hanooka” means both “dedication” and “education.” As the flames of Hanooka flicker, may we dedicate our cultural and spiritual education to becoming a Reparationist.
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb