The Forgotten Voices – Boston’s Racial Reparations Committee

I recently learned that the City of Boston formed a Racial Reparations Committee. My initial reaction was one of cautious optimism, marred only by the glaring omission: “Why wasn’t I approached about this?” It’s exactly the kind of institutional oversight that epitomizes the city’s racism, the ignoring of voices that should be central to such a crucial conversation.

My roots may be grounded in South Carolina, in the soil tilled by my forefathers, but I am a Bostonian by birth. I have a perspective that could enrich this dialogue, yet my voice, like those of so many others, was overlooked.

This Reparations Committee raises questions that are as complex as they are necessary. Boston resides in Massachusetts, a state that abolished slavery before the rest of the country followed suit. So what is the focus here? Is it on reparations for those enslaved prior to the state’s abolition, or is the discussion centered around the after-effects that still ripple through our communities today?

Either direction could be valid. The important thing is to have the discussion. But who are the individuals making these decisions? Who sits on this committee? To truly dissect the layered issue of reparations, we must include all perspectives. This isn’t merely a matter of consulting African Americans; Boston is home to a diverse black population that extends beyond those with roots in American slavery. Should reparations be only for black Americans, or is the committee considering all black people in Boston?

One thing is clear: If Boston is sincere in its intentions, the conversation about reparations needs to be inclusive, with every black voice given a chance to weigh in. Whether you hail from the American South, the Caribbean, or the many other places that black Bostonians call their ancestral homes, your perspective is valuable. As for myself, I can’t help but feel that if you’re from Jamaica, or any other part of the black diaspora, your voice too should be part of this discourse.

This committee is a step in the right direction, but it’s just that—a step. If Boston really wants to make amends, it will have to do a lot more than just form a committee. It needs to listen, it needs to learn, and most importantly, it needs to act in a way that makes all its black residents feel seen, heard, and valued. Until then, the city remains what it has always been: a place with a lot to answer for.

A Lesson in Respect for the Departed

As I embarked on a visit to the southern part of the country, I knew I was in for a unique experience. My primary goal was to spend time with my beloved sister and accompany her on a shopping spree for an upcoming cruise. Little did I know that a simple car ride down a main street would provide me with a profound insight into the cultural differences between the South and my hometown of Boston.

As we cruised down the street, taking in the sights and sounds of the southern town, my sister’s attention was suddenly drawn to a peculiar sight. She mentioned that there must be a funeral taking place, as all the cars around us had respectfully pulled over to the side of the road. Without hesitation, my sister followed suit, joining the line of vehicles patiently waiting.

From my seat in the car, I observed the solemn procession passing by on the opposite side of the road. The sight was awe-inspiring. As the cortege made its way through the town, it was evident that a deep sense of reverence permeated the air. This act of paying homage to the departed moved me profoundly, and it led me to ponder how a similar scenario might unfold in my hometown of Boston.

Knowing the fast-paced nature of city life back home, I couldn’t help but imagine a starkly different scene. In Boston, where life moves at an accelerated pace, it seemed inconceivable that we would pause our daily activities to acknowledge the passing of a stranger. We would likely speed by, unaffected by the sorrowful procession, lost in the frenzy of our own lives.

It was in that moment of reflection that I uttered the words, “This is why I like the South.” The culture of respect exhibited by the community for even the departed is a cherished aspect of Southern life. It serves as a reminder that amidst the hurried chaos of modern living, there is immense value in pausing if only for a moment, to honor those who have left this world.

In this age of constant motion and ever-increasing demands on our time, the Southern tradition of paying respects to the deceased carries a powerful message. It reminds us to embrace compassion and empathy, to acknowledge the fragility of life, and to appreciate the significance of every individual’s journey, even in death.

This encounter left an indelible mark on my heart. It made me realize the importance of fostering a culture that values the departed and acknowledges the profound impact they have had on our lives. Whether we choose to celebrate their accomplishments or mourn their loss, our ability to honor and remember them brings solace and unity to our communities.

As I continued my journey through the South, I carried with me the profound lesson of respect I had learned that day. It became a catalyst for introspection, prompting me to explore how I could incorporate this value into my own life and community. Perhaps, by embracing a similar sense of reverence, we could bridge the gap between our hectic routines and the deeper human connections that give life meaning.

In the end, it is the small gestures, such as pulling over for a funeral procession, that exemplify the core values of a community. The South taught me the beauty of honoring the departed, and for that, I am forever grateful. It is my hope that we can all learn from this cultural exchange and strive to create a world where respect for even the dead is not confined to a region but becomes a universal practice, enriching our lives and touching our souls.

Vegan Pumpkin Soup

It’s October, and if you live in the Northeastern United States, not too long ago, you used to be able to take your evening walk in the 7 o’clock sun and still get home in time to see a golden blaze burning in the sky. But now the fall has fallen and the green leaf is a fiery orange, a brilliant yellow, and purple too. Winter is coming, and the fruits of the season now fill the baskets in your home: bounties of beets and fennel, brussels sprouts, pumpkin, parsnips, and carrots. All are good for a seasonal soup like this vegan pumpkin soup below with its West African accents that my birthmate Tarkpor shared with me just recently. It was good to the very last drop, and I can’t wait to make it for myself. In the meantime, try it out and let me know how it goes.

Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook time: 60


1 tablespoon of olive oil 

1/2 cup fresh ground peanut butter

1/2 bag small brown lentils

4 cloves of garlic chopped  

5 cloves

2 onions roughly chopped

2 carrots (cut crosswise into thin rounds)

4 tomatoes chopped

1 white sweet potato (peeled and chopped)

3 mushrooms (chopped)

3 twigs of thyme

2 tablespoons of fresh basil

About ten whole okras

Half of a Kabocha squash (peeled and chopped)

Seasoning to taste (this cold be salt, pepper, or a vegetable bouillon)


  1. Add 32 ounces of water to a soup pot and bring to boil.
  2. Then add peanut butter and cloves to the boiling water. Turn fire to medium.
  3. In a pan, sauté mushroom, garlic, thyme, and seasoning. Then add all of the other ingredients and allow to stew for fifteen minutes.
  4. Add stew to the soup pot. Cook on medium for 40 minutes, or until pumpkin and potatoes are soft and tender.


The Last Words

When all is said and done (or the other way around), give the other person a platform to share their last words with you. This is probably the best thing you can do in a relationship that is sunsetting. No matter how painful the stinger of those last words on your heart ?, do not dare offer up a response. Let your’s be the deafening silence. Your heart will hear you and you won’t even have to use your words to express the anger and disappointment you feel inside. Be gentle with yourself. Knowing, for certain, that this too shall pass.