It’s unfortunate that we’re publishing this in such a context, as the original story about Ice Cube and his Contract With Black America was supposed to be just that: a look at the proposal the activist and rapper-turned movie star-turned activist again has been pushing and why it’s important. Unfortunately, the internet got Ice Cube fucked up once again.
There’s an awful lot to this issue and this article will absolutely not be solely about Ice Cube’s meeting with Trump last week or his potential ongoing involvement with the Trump administration and the controversy around them. In fact, we here at IMP have deigned to give it only one paragraph of this story, so here you go:
Earlier this year, Ice Cube and other leaders and great thinkers on racial justice in America got together in the wake of the George Floyd incident to draft A Contract With Black America. Cube also took to social media to lay out and explain its importance to his followers in a series of videos starting in early August. He was very clear that it was to be a bipartisan starting point to close the racial wealth gap in the US. He outlined the shortcomings of each party when it came to giving Black Americans a fair deal socially and economically and stated he would work with either and/or both sides to the the reforms outlined in the Contract put in place. Very few people paid attention until last week, when Cube made good on his promise to meet with any politician willing to listen (Trump in this case) and now suddenly everyone’s paying attention, but for all the wrong reasons.
Cube did multiple Instagram videos about his stance on the parties, but here’s the most comprehensive. If you’re confused about his position, take seven minutes out of your day and watch it:
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The obligatory confusion with partisan rhetoric now dispensed with, it’s much more useful to understand A Contract With Black America and why it’s so important. Before creating the initiative with Executive Director of socio-political thinktank The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity Darrick Hamilton, Cube researched extensively to find out what systems were still in place that were holding people of color back and concluded that it’s really a bipartisan issue. A Contract With Black America was drafted by Hamilton and Cube as a comprehensive reform proposal to these systems so that no matter who was in power, minorities and specifically Black Americans would have the same rights and privileges guaranteed to them as white Americans.
The concept behind A Contract With Black America is simple: the amendments put in place in the Constitution to protect Black Americans and other racial minorities are failing, and there needs to be reform at multiple levels of the country’s infrastructure to get the system working as it should. Its authors don’t just want the higher-ups in the federal government to sign and implement this contract; it’s calling for every citizen to do their part and agree to its tenants and terms and there’s a space on the Contract’s website to e-sign it. After all, its main premise is that real change for the Black community means fundamentally changing not just the country’s infrastructure but how it functions socially as well.
After stating its summarized purpose to essentially level the playing field, close the wealth gap and make Black Americans feel safer both from hate crimes and the police, A Contract With Black America is divided into subsections, detailing areas where improvement can be made and how the improvements can be implemented. The first sections focus quite a bit on the financial end of things as that’s a place where the most tangible reforms can be made and, as Cube has said in his videos, “no one pays attention unless you have the money to back it up.” Sad, but true.
The first section “Representation,” discusses giving more representation to Black Americans in all parts of society from Affirmative Action in schools to more Black representation in all levels of government and civil bodies. It addresses voting reform as well, calling for Jerrymandering reform, for civil liberties education to be added in compulsory schools and for more polling places in Black and minority neighborhoods. These are things that can be good for all Americans. Section I also demands a real apology for past discrimination and slavery and for Juneteenth to be recognized as a national holiday. While these last bits may be a far cry from wiping the slate clean, it’s good to ask for it on record and will go a long way to providing the foundations for moving forward and healing that 400-year-old wound many Black Americans still carry to this day.
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Sections 2 through 6 are possibly the most comprehensive public credit and fiduciary reform proposals ever in America, regardless of race. With the credit system crumbling underneath the banks’ and government’s feet, these reforms are needed not just for minorities but everyone in the US. Section 2, “Bank Lending Reform” focuses on the egregious disparity between loans given to white people versus people of color and calls for lending from both private and public institutions to more accurately represent the nation’s population percentage of the Black community.
Section 3, “Federal Funding” calls for a trust fund to be established of $1000 for every child born after a designated year and that kids coming from financially disadvantaged families should have more in annual contributions, up to $46,500 and accessible by age 18. It’s a bit pie in the sky and of course both Cube and Hamilton have said the Contract is only a jumping off point for negotiations but really, why not? If higher education is still so minimally subsidised, health cares are still so astronomical and the Baby Boomer generation are diminishing SSI so much that even GenX might not be able to claim it by the time they reach retirement age, this plan is as good as any to try to help out future generations. The Contract also states that children may only use the trust funds for education, home ownership or establishing a business.
Section 4 “Federal Reserve” is also about the federal government doing its part to help current Black Americans with home ownership. As one of the biggest obstacles for Black and other minority communities to closing the wealth gap, this section suggests a one-time interest-free loan to Black Americans towards the purchase of a new home. It seems sort of like a FAFSA for home ownership but specifically tailored to getting more minority Americans owning more minority properties. Along with Section 2 and 3, this section can go a long way in starting to level the playing field and getting Black Americans and minorities caught up financially.
Sections 5 and 6, “Finance Oversight” and “Data & Credit” are concerned with structuring the programs mentioned in sections 2-4 with lots of oversight and checks and balances in place to ensure fair policies and protections, keep an eye on banks and make sure they’re lending to the standards of the programs and to make sure the numbers are going up in terms of access and actual lending to the populations who need it.
Sections 7 through 9 are all about reform in the justice system in the United States. Section 7, “Prison Reform” calls for the abolishment of private prisons and for all nonviolent offenders who have been incarcerated for more than 10 years and have had good behavior to be released. The latter piece seems obvious, but parole for nonviolent offenders is overlooked for Black prisoners time and time again, resulting in at least one piece of the reason the US’s prison population is over 30% Black while the nation’s population is only 14% Black (averaged across populations of males and females).
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Sections 8 and 9 address two more major reasons for that disparity, judicial and policing practices. Section 8, “Judicial Reform” calls for mandatory minimums to be abolished, stricter guidelines for police oversight and for lynching to be designated as a federal hate crime. It wasn’t already? Lastly, it calls for the KKK to be listed as a terrorist organization. Again, it wasn’t already? Section 9, “Police Reform” is unsurprisingly the biggest section in the whole contract, calling for reforms to the policing system on all levels from the obvious like elimination of Qualified Immunity, abolishment of lethal force practices like the choke holds that killed George Floyd and Eric Garner to things most people don’t think of like requiring malpractice insurance for police officers and a federal public database of police disciplinary records. It’s a laundry list and too much to summarize but lots of good ideas. To read the full Section 9 on “Police Reform” go directly to it here.
Sections 10-12 are about social programs that can help to bend the balance in the right direction in ways that don’t relate to money. Section 10, “FCC Licensing” calls for the FCC to require broadcast networks to air at least 20% of their content from Black-produced creators. Section 11, “Confederate Institutions” calls for the continued elimination of Confederate statues, landmarks, parks and school names as well as the building of a memorial in Washington DC for victims of police violence. These two sections are really about increasing visibility, and in a way, so is section 13. “AJP Program for Education and Jobs” calls for more robust backing and adoption of the American Jobs Project for Black and disadvantaged communities.
Lastly, Section 13 is called “Black Responsibility.” This is a powerful end to the Contract which essentially hopes that once all the other measures contained therein are implemented and things start to really change, the Black communities in the US will finally begin to heal. It calls for Black Americans to try to begin to trust government and society again, to get help for their trauma if they need it and to reach out for the help now that it’s there. It’s an incredibly personal way to end the contract and summing up doesn’t really do it justice, so read the full statement here.
As previously mentioned, at the end of the contract there’s a space for every American person to sign the contract, and it’s likely going to be used as a petition going forward to get more eyes in the government on it. In the meantime, Ice Cube has met with both Republican and Democrat leaders about the contract prior to this media storm. He wasn’t satisfied with what either party had to say, stating he would continue to be open to meetings. The Trump Administration was the first to take him up on this but nothing has been decided yet and ‘A Contract With Black America’ has nothing to do with any election endorsements.
Read that as many times as you need to. Then go watch, read or listen to the literal dozens of times Ice Cube has stated his exact intentions. A Contract With Black America is bipartisan and it is an attempt to finally get a fair deal for the Black community in America, regardless of who’s in power. If everyone’s going to jump on a media train about what Ice Cube and Darrick Hamilton are doing, let’s make it the right one.
For more resources on this matter, read A Contract With Black America at contractwithblackamerica.us, check out Cube’s Rolling Stone interview or watch his Red Table Talk with Jada Pinkett-Smith, NFL star Brandon Marshall and CNN political contributor Van Jones.