R is for Reparations (2019)
R is for Reparations (2019)
Global Afrikan Congress (Nova Scotia Chapter)
Denise Gillard, ed.
Paperback saddlestitched with staples. H260 x W210 mm. 40 pages. Acquired from the Book Depository, 1 March 2023.
Photos of the book: Books On Books Collection.
If all alphabets have a world view, can an alphabet be bent and arranged into a new world view? In 2018, the Nova Scotia Chapter of the Global Afrikan Congress facilitated a “book-in-a-day” event to help the children of Halifax create an alphabet book that answers that question. Bending and arranging the human body to make letters has a long tradition in book illustration. Drawing on that tradition, the participating children gave voice and body to create R is for Reparations, an alphabet book calling for a new world view on reparations for the damage and legacy of the Atlantic Slave Trade.
The Reparations Movement has a long history, and Halifax, Nova Scotia has played a part. In 2010, the City of Halifax issued a formal apology and $5 million in general compensation for the razing of the Black community Africville in the 1960s (see Further Reading).
Anticipating it final report in July 2023 to the state legislature, the Californian Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans called for significant financial compensation. The governor issued a tepid if not cool response, which may be unsurprising even in the wake of his earlier signing and endorsing of legislation returning Bruce’s Beach to the Black family from whom the government appropriated it in 1924 (see Further Reading). It is an emotionally and politically complicated issue for some.
The foreword by Denise Gillard takes a less complicated view as might be expected in a children’s book, and as R is for Reparations addresses primarily Afrikans and Afrikan Descendants both on the Afrikan Continent and in the Diaspora, that view is strong and forceful. It is the sort of children’s book that would be banned in some US school libraries, but as the voices and bodies of its multi-racial cast of participants imply, it is the sort of book that those schools’ children could fearlessly manage.
Not every page is as strong as the next, but the influence of Amos Paul Kennedy Jr., Master Printer, who attended to support the children in making posters for the book launch, is evident in the colors, collage and overprinting. The book deserves comparison and contrast with the Books On Books Collection’s related holdings (see Further Reading).
“Abecedaries I (in progress)“. Books On Books Collection.
“Tia Blassingame“. 17 August 2022. Books On Books Collection.
“Wendy Ewald“. 15 May 2023. Books On Books Collection.
“Tupoka Ogette“. 15 May 2023. Books On Books Collection. For an alphabet addressed primarily to White Europeans.
“Arial Robinson“. 15 May 2023. Books On Books Collection.
“Clarissa Sligh“. 2 September 2020. Books On Books Collection.
McRae, Matthew. Posted 23 February 2017, Updated 26 April 2023. “The Story of Africville“. Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Accessed 1 May 2023.
Lockhart, P.R. 26 December 2021. “Calls for reparations are as old as emancipation. Will global powers finally listen?” NBC News. Accessed 1 May 2023.
Smith, Erika. 8 January 2023. “Bruce’s Beach was a win for reparations. Why it matters that Black people lost it“. Los Angeles Times. Accessed 1 May 2023.
Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans. 1 June 2022. Reparations Report. State of California Department of Justice. Accessed 1 May 2023.