This post is about how to practice reparations. It’s not an argument for reparations. If you want one, this is stellar and crystallized things for me.
For RAISING CLARITY, it is beyond obvious that money in our culture is grossly out of balance, and that white people need to take action to rebalance it if we want “peaceful, ethical money management and fundraising.”
This post is also not an exploration of the concept of reparations. If you would like one, here is a reasonable overview. Reparations in the U.S. is often overly limited to healing the wrongs of slavery in particular; here’s an overview.
It’s not a new idea; although two people have kept our national reparations bill (HR 40) alive in Congress for decades–John Lewis and John Conyers–they have, over the years, been joined by others. You might like to see where your congressperson stands by clicking that link. Senate supporters of the parallel bill are here.) Interestingly, three hours before I sat down to write this, the California legislature voted to take some first steps toward reparations.
Reparations is Balancing What is Out of Balance
Money is out of balance in the United States. Resources of all kinds, including money, have flowed toward whites and away from people of color throughout our history.
Don’t get me wrong: this was not inevitable, and it is not “just the way things are.” I 1000% know there is no scarcity in the Universe. There’s no cosmic reason for this imbalance.
But it has been no accident. There’s a human, historical reason for the imbalance: theft. Organized, long-term, collective, programmatic, theft.
And we need to stop it. Plus, rebalance it.
We need to stop it nationally, since we are accountable for it continuing to happen now, in the present moment, as citizens of a democracy. The links in the last section are a starting point.
And we also need to stop this theft in our own lives. This post shares what I do to stop it, at present. I expect to grow and do more.
Reparations are Fundamental to Peaceful, Ethical Money Flow
Although I refuse to explain or argue for reparations, I will certainly explain and argue for why they are basic to what you and I are here for: a peaceful and ethical relationship with money.
As described in this post’s checklist, being ethical with money is not the same as being peaceful with money. Being ethical = “head agreement.” For a peaceful and ethical relationship, we need head, heart, and gut agreement. This post describes three first steps to a peaceful relationship with money. Peace includes financial familiarity and resilience and a huge part of feeling peaceful with money is emotional resilience. Emotional resilience starts with self-awareness cultivated by noticing what we actually feel and do with money.
You cannot have a massive cultural money imbalance and have a peaceful, ethical relationship with money while doing nothing about the imbalance.
We might think that “what we don’t know won’t hurt us.” I think many of us have played that game with money a long time: we just don’t want to know. We don’t research reparations, we don’t find out what has happened historically to imbalance the money flow in our country (and the world), so we stay pure, our vibe untainted by truth and the pain of the realities we might encounter, and totally non-responsible.
But the Universe doesn’t work like that. And we here especially know it. So it’s time to take action if you haven’t already. (And if you have, I’d love to know what you yourself are doing.)
How I Practice Reparations
Here is how I take action. This will surely change as I deepen my practice and understanding, including learning from you and your practice:
- I set money aside in an account I created that is just for giving away. (To my bank, it’s just a second savings account. It was extremely easy to set up online after I had a checking account. With no penalties, I can move my money around as many times as I like, all day long if I like, among my checking account, my savings account, and my giving-away “savings” account). It’s the first investment I make after every deposit: 10% into my savings fund, and 10% into my fund for giving away. I aspire to give away 20%; lately, I have been finding myself doing so. (In future, I’d like to give 30%.) Also, I like having a limit so that I don’t give too much away; if you are like me, you are pulled to give a lot. Setting a limit on my giving is self-compassionate, even if sometimes I have to hold a council of selves to come to an agreement on when it is ok for me to give just once more in a particular time-period.
Note: Giving more than you can sustain is not helpful. White guilt is very useful as a starting point to action. And then action must be sustained, and to be sustained, it must be healthy.
- I give my money away. It’s “my” money because it came through my hands. It’s not mine in any long-term sense, nor is it mine because I “deserve” it. (I think deserving is a shell game, and here are some posts questioning it. Everyone born is deserving; that never changes, throughout our lives.)
- Some of the money I give away is for reparations, and I am clear what is, and what isn’t. (I support other things that take money, too.) My favorite way to do this is through the Reparations Facebook Group because a) it allows me as an individual to support specific other individuals, and b) it makes good use of the amounts of money I have available, which are often amounts like $15 or $25, and sometimes like $150. Like all giving done with awareness, it moves me toward greater consciousness and choice about where to direct money. As spiritual entrepreneur coach Kimberly Maska puts it, we should give money to what spiritually feeds us. Reparations feeds me. And as I give, I am learning what feeds me in more detail. Plus, as I have more to give, I will give larger amounts for more structural purposes, for example as a Pipeline Angel and to the Southern Reparations Loan Fund. (Many more options exist!) I know that giving away more, I will have more.
And that’s it. There are a number of other things I do to heal my own racism and our collective racism. This post however, is focused on reparations as a pathway to a more peaceful, ethical money flow.
PS: Right now, it’s very hip to be antiracist. That’s surely better than the opposite, but as you can tell, I’m into what is sustained. This is not my first post on reparations, it’s just the loudest and clearest. Here’s one other, also very recent.