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“#ADOS was started by the brain trust of Howard graduate and host of the Breaking Brown political show, Yvette Carnell, and UCLA alumnus and attorney, Antonio Moore who hosts the weekly radio show Tonetalks. ADOS—which stands for American Descendants of Slavery—seeks to reclaim/restore the critical national character of the African American identity and experience, one grounded in our group’s unique lineage, and which is central to our continuing struggle for social and economic justice in the United States.
In his book, American Slavery, American Freedom, the historian Edmund Morgan concludes that slavery was not a contradiction of American freedom, but rather that slavery was the institution that made white freedom possible. In other words, slavery was not a mistake so much as a precondition for a societal hierarchy which requires descendants of slaves to remain a bottom caste and be made to suffer the necessary failures of a brutal economic system. This was followed by a Jim Crow-era that saw #ADOS become actual contagions that lead to a destruction of wealth; through federally-supported, discriminatory practices like redlining, black presence literally made wealth disappear in communities, all while American whites—and more recently, immigrants— enjoy advantage in a land of apparently equal opportunity that was in fact manufactured on the back of black failure.
According to Yale historian David Blight, “by 1860, there were more millionaires (slaveholders all) living in the lower Mississippi Valley than anywhere else in the United States. In the same year, the nearly 4 million American slaves were worth some $3.5 billion, making them the largest single financial asset in the entire U.S. economy, worth more than all manufacturing and railroads combined.”
Codified by government and exploited by private actors, the creation of an #ADOS underclass served as the financial engine of a nation that never recognized the debt it owed to the group as a result. As such, the #ADOS movement is underpinned by the demand for reparative justice in making the group whole, and as a necessary component in fulfilling the promise of opportunity from which, by design, ADOS have been historically excluded and denied.
The truth of ADOS life is seen nowhere more clearly than the racial wealth gap in this country:
Closing the racial wealth gap requires a New Deal for Black America. President Trump’s assertion during the 2016 Presidential campaign that Black Americans “have nothing to lose” was met with defiance by those on the Left, but the data supported the statement. From over all wealth levels, to home ownership, to student debt levels and beyond African Americans across this nation are suffering. According to a study from Brookings, half of Black Americans who are born poor stay poor. Most Black kids who are born into middle class families are downwardly mobile. And as Duke University economist Dr. William “Sandy” Darity, and co-founder of the ADOS movement, Antonio Moore, along with other researchers observed in their study What We Get Wrong About Closing the Racial Wealth Gap, the concentration of ADOS at the bottom economically is a consequence of lack of wealth transfers and multi-generational oppression, not individual agency or cultural patterns:
#ADOS #AmericanDOS sets out to shift the dialogue around the identity of what it is to be African American in an effort to move the discussion from melanin, and properly center the discussion around lineage.