Reparations on Fire: How and Why it’s Spreading Across America
by Nkechi Taifa
Reparations on Fire explores the spread of the reparation movement’s multiple fronts, encompassing the local, national, and international arenas, much of it occurring between 2020-2022. This book exists because of both the promise and danger of this moment, and because of the rapidly spreading momentum across the country on the issue.
Reparations on Fire describes history-in-the-making. It combines a historical survey and commentary on the Reparations Movement in America while addressing how pioneering reparations legislation is being born and debated in city council chambers and statehouses nationwide. It is part historical analysis, part revolutionary manifesto, and part political red-alert.
Reparations on Fire brings additional value to the Reparations Movement as it goes about the necessary task of concretizing its goals and objectives and envisioning a future where Black freedom and joy can flourish. It describes how reparations went from being discussed in the radical margins of the Civil Rights Movement to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the General Assembly of the United Nations.
It outlines how unsung Black Power activists such as Queen Mother Moore and Imari Obadele set the foundations for reparations to be championed by U.S. Rep John Conyers and, later, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee in the Congress of the United States -- a fight that, as this book comes out, is still being waged as reparations activists ask President Biden to sign an executive order immediately bringing a federal reparations commission to study and develop reparations proposals into existence.
The quest for reparations is equal parts edgy, exciting, transformational, confrontational, messy and confusing. Reparations on Fire proves that we are now beyond rhetoric and well into action mode. Fire illuminates, purifies and brings warmth, but can also cause pain, damage and destruction. It can symbolize the eternal flame of hope, or signify ruin and demise. The spirit of reparations is sweeping the country like fire. Whether it heals or consumes depends on how America responds to its long overdue debt, and possibly portends the future of democracy, both domestic and global.