Camouflaged No More.

Visibility matters. African Americans are an incredibly diverse group of people, with a wide variety of ethnicities, cultures, religions, and languages. When our government lumps all of us together as a singular group under pan-ethnic terms such as Black or African American, our unique strengths, challenges and distinct communities’ needs are erased and rendered invisible by “averaging out” the data. While our website uses these terms because America currently identifies this group collectively this way, Freeman Initiative advocates for accurate data on our diverse African American communities. African Americans are NOT a monolith. Descendants of American chattel slavery make up the majority of legacy American citizens in this country. They have an inherited experienced here that is not shared by any other group of people. Accurate data on specific communities within the Black diaspora is integral to gaining valuable resources that many African American families need to thrive. Better data means a better chance to identify and target the needs of those most marginalized.

ADOS African American Diversity

America has repeatedly targeted its freed chattel slaves and their descendants with a series of selective and discretionary mechanisms, both overt and covert, for denying, excluding, policing, plundering, and preying upon them. The socio-economic disparities seen today are the result of this targeting. Freeman Initiative wants this to cease in all of its various forms. Transparency in data is the most effective way to identity potential and actual issues, as well as provide a current status check on the descendants of American chattel slavery. Only with accurate data disaggregated by race and ethnicity can we ensure that resources and interventions are laser focused to help address widening health, economic, and social disparities.

Our Position on
Data Disaggregation.

The Freeman Initiative has taken a position on data disaggregation: we are unanimously in favor of data disaggregation for descendants of American chattel slavery, an ethnically unique group of people who are indigenous to the United States and have no identifiable connection to any other particular country as a group. The history of descendants of American chattel slavery (aka ADOS history) is anchored here in America. Data disaggregation will result in inequality reduction and opportunity enhancement that is consistent with the goals and ideals America purports to advance for its citizens.

Our position on data disaggregation aligns with that espoused by the American Descendants of Slavery Advocacy Foundation (“ADOSAF”). Accordingly, we will work collaboratively with ADOSAF for recognition of a lineage specific designation for descendants of American chattel slavery. Freeman Initiative supported their proposed lineage designation of American Descendants of Slavery (“ADOS”) before the United States Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”). We continue to urge the OMB to adopt revisions for Statistical Policy Directive No. 15 (Directive 15) and to elevate the need for these revisions to mandate federal agencies to collect disaggregated race and ethnicity data by default, using checkboxes or write-in spaces, and to disaggregate this data to the fullest extent possible. Broad racial and ethnic categories do not allow for a full, true understanding of African American populations and can disguise underlying trends that would illuminate needed policy remedies across many sectors. Freeman Initiative also supports the establishment of a Bureau of ADOS Affairs headed by or informed by descendants of American chattel slavery to oversee administration of a reparations package, maintain a genealogy registry, and implement future programs to address the needs of ADOS people.

Why We Support
Data Disaggregation for ADOS.

Aggregated data hide inequities experienced by descendants of American chattel slavery. It also exacerbates injustices for this group of legacy American citizens.

Disaggregated data on Black diaspora populations in America show significant variances in educational attainment, socio-economic status, health and access to social support systems. For example, studies have shown that descendants of American chattel slavery, African immigrants, and Afro-Caribbeans differ noticeably with respect to social determinants like health and medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. These groups also differ significantly in respect to economic determinants like education, employment, and homeownership.

Voting rights are a notable example of why data disaggregation is crucial. The U.S. Supreme Court ripped the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 because they claimed that the advance approval requirement was based on 40-year-old data that did not account for racial progress and other changes in American society. However, that advance approval requirement was the main tool used to stop voting bias in 15 states with a history of discrimination against Black voters who were primarily ADOS. The Court’s misguided ruling unleashed an unending wave of voter suppression efforts that disproportionately affected and/or targeted Black communities and their voting districts. It paved the pathway for the later ruling by a federal appeals court that private citizens can no longer sue under the Voting Rights Act. Detailed race and ethnicity data are now indispensable to protecting voting rights because they can expose disparities that affect underserved communities, including in statutorily protected language access and ballot accessibility.

Freeman Initiative March for Justice

Today, African American communities still face the most egregious levels of discrimination in the United States. As a group of American citizens with the least amount of power and wealth, descendants of American chattel slavery are continually exploited at every turn— whether it is wages, medical abuse, land thefts, disproportionate tax audits, incarceration, excessive sentencing, credit, lending, home appraisals, investment schemes, environmental toxins, contaminated water, food deserts, underfunding and policing our schools or cultural appropriation, the predation needs to stop. It needs to be undone. Descendants of American chattel slavery must be made whole after being preyed upon for more than 250 years in America. We need expanded investments towards frontline organizations like Freeman Initiative and ADOS Advocacy Foundation that work for a national reparations program, as well as a Black agenda that is proactive against inequity and reactive against injustice. It is as simple as this: as long as data collected about African Americans is not disaggregated, distinct communities like descendants of American chattel slavery will remain underserved at best and illegally targeted for various forms of discrimination at worse.