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“We are plotting our escape through reparations.”

– Dr. Cheryl T. Grills


This past June, I had the privilege of attending the Alight, Align, Arise (AAA): Advancing the Movement for Repair Conference, hosted by the Decolonizing Wealth Project (DWP). The AAA Conference took place in the Black Mecca of Atlanta, Georgia. It was deeply fitting for members across the reparations movement to convene, collaborate, align, and heal on such bountiful grounds. The ultimate question the conference presented was, how do accelerate racial healing in America through truth, reconciliation, and repair?

I humbly attended the AAA Conference on behalf of Community Healing Network (CHN). My attendance was preceded by our President Emerita & Founder Enola G. Aird’s Stakeholder Report to the United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent entitled, Emotional Reparations: Healing the Damage Caused by the Lie of White Superiority and Black Inferiority. Founder Aird first defined emotional reparations in 2019: 


The term “emotional reparations” refers to what will be needed to repair completely the generation upon generation of emotional and psychological harm inflicted on our ancestors, and on us, and on our children. 

In fact, the emotional harm is the greatest harm of all. 

To fully assess the emotional and psychological damage, we need to look beyond enslavement and colonization, and even racism. We need to focus on the source of all the manifestations of anti-Blackness. Full reparations must include repair of the damage done by the poisonous lie of White superiority and Black inferiority: the root cause of the devaluing of Black lives and the underdevelopment of Black communities. It must include the work of extinguishing the lie.


It was in this Spirit my presence was actualized. It was in this Spirit, some of the most powerful moments of the conference emerged. 

Earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., introduced legislation stating a minimum of $14 trillion would be needed to close the racial wealth gap. Also, a study on the quantification of reparations for Transatlantic Chattel Slavery (TCS) in the Americas and the Caribbean identified at least 31 countries are owed reparations totaling $107.8 trillion. 

We are sure countless other reports, from a local to international level, will continue to affirm how reparations necessitates the greatest wealth transfer in human history. What may be unfathomable but perhaps even more critical to reparations is what Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of The Case for Reparations, called “spiritual renewal” in his opening conversation with DWP Founder Edgar Villanueva.  

Coates came to this conclusion when encouraging Global Africans, especially those from the States, to visit Palestine and witness the apartheid perpetuated by the Israeli government. Coates’ urged that we, as Africans, must be spiritually renewed to ensure we do not replicate the same violence and harm perpetuated against us as we accomplish reparations. 

A comprehensive reparations package for Global Africans would pave the way for us to do exactly that. According to the international legal framework established by the United Nations Principles on Reparation, a full and effective reparations program must include all of the following: 

  1. Restitution
  2. Compensation
  3. Rehabilitation
  4. Satisfaction
  5. Guarantees of non-repetition

Rehabilitation is key here. According to the International Court of Justice’s interpretation of the U.N. Principles on Reparation, “victims are entitled to rehabilitation of their dignity, their social situation and their legal situation, and their vocational situation … rehabilitation must be specific to the victim, based on an independent, holistic and professional evaluation of the individual’s needs, and ensure that the victim participates in the choice of service providers … [rehabilitation] should include a wide range of interdisciplinary services, such as medical and psychological care.” In other words, our right to heal must be supported by all of the resources possible support to do so. 


In our opinion, Community Healing Network’s Seven Keys to Emotional Emancipation, developed in collaboration with the Association of Black Psychologists, is a model for the spiritual renewal Coates urged us to embark upon. The keys have the necessary ingredients to enliven the African Spirit, to rehabilitate and reorient us towards the dawn of a new, yet ancient world sense.


The Seven Keys to Emotional Emancipation are affirmations of the work required to free ourselves from the psychological and emotional bondage of centuries of racism. These keys serve as conscious reminders of what we must understand, what we must tell ourselves, what we must seek out, and what we must do in order to free ourselves. They can serve as sources of support in moments of stress, challenge, strain, and whenever we are at risk of slipping into old habits, outdated thinking, and unhelpful patterns.


This is the foundation from which we will dismantle the false hierarchy of humanity and ultimately experience emotional reparations. There is no better way to address the vestiges of slavery than to do away with the psychology that precipitated it, within and without. What is even better is the opportunity to replant ourselves in African cultural wisdom, a paradigm that will restore our relationship to Natural & Divine Law, as framed by the principles of Ma’at.

The AAA Conference sparked an excitement here at CHN to continue to amplify the global grassroots movement for emotional emancipation, and we look forward to working with our beloved partners in finishing the job our ancestors have begun. 


Jabari Lane | Development Associate | Community Healing Network