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Supporters defend reparations advocate and Sirius radio host Mark Thompson

By Bryan 18X Crawford -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Apr 24, 2019 - 3:49:47 PM

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One of the byproducts of the ongoing reparations conversation in American political discourse has been the rise of the #ADOS (American Descendants of Slaves) movement, spearheaded by founders Yvette Carnell and Antonio Moore.

Ms. Carnell, creator of the Breaking Brown website, also has an extensive YouTube following. Mr. Moore, a former district attorney in Los Angeles, has a significant YouTube presence under the “Tone Talks” channel. Both have centered themselves in the cyber fight for reparations. But, those who have been engaged in reparations on the ground—at the grassroots level—have become increasingly skeptical of #ADOS, Ms. Carnell, Mr. Moore and their followers who swarm at the slightest hint of feeling disrespected in any way.

Rev. Mark Thompson, host of the SiriusXM progressive radio talk show, “Make It Plain,” has been very critical of #ADOS, both on social media, and on his show. As a result, Mr. Thompson has been aggressively targeted by not only #ADOS supporters, but also its founders since he appeared on Joy Ann Reid’s “Morning Joy” talk show on MSNBC discussing reparations. Part of what he said was taken as an affront by #ADOS.

“There’s some nefarious behavior going on, just like we saw in 2016, where certain trolls—certain interests outside of the Black community, who may even appear to be Black [online]—like to take an issue, exploit it, and inject it into the presidential race. That’s one of the things we’re concerned about now; that there are some people who are pushing the issue and they have an ulterior motive,” Mr. Thompson explained on the “Morning Joy” show, adding, “Whenever you see people online refer to reparations and they only hold Democratic candidates accountable, and then they say if Democratic candidates don’t support reparations, then Black voters should stay home in 2020, that’s how you know those people aren’t genuine representatives of the reparations movement. We saw that type of exploitation in 2016 and we want to make sure that our community, this go around, is not subjected to what is really a cyber COINTELPRO [operation], where an issue in our community is infiltrated, exploited and used against us.”

Since that appearance on March 16, Mr. Thompson has been attacked from all sides, with ugly things coming to a head on April 5 in Newark, N.J., during a gentrification town hall meeting hosted by the Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW 21). Mr. Thompson was approached by an individual who only identified himself as “Afrika,” who began asking him questions, but then became more aggressive. Things escalated quickly, resulting in Mr. Thompson making contact with the man physically, who then followed him outside and continued to berate and pursue Mr. Thompson. The entire exchange was caught on video by Mr. Thompson’s cameraman and when an edited clip was shared by Ms. Carnell on Twitter, a firestorm exploded, resulted in Mr. Thompson being removed from the SiriusXM airwaves, with his status still up in the air.

Rev. Mark Thompson, (left) shown here with Joe Madison (r) is host of the SiriusXM progressive radio talk show, “Make It Plain,” has been attacked by #ADOS supporters and agitators from other organizations.

Mr. Thompson, who is based in Washington, D.C., has long been involved in the reparations struggle, found support in others like him who have dedicated years of their lives fighting for Black people to be repaid what they are owed by the United States.

“The crux of the #ADOS attack is muting Black voices focused on reparations and solidarity,” Imani Kushan, a Twitter user who has been aggressively compiling, parsing and sharing information online that sheds light on the origins of the #ADOS movement, told The Final Call. “We cannot allow a group with no actions to speak of, and no community history, to come out and silence those who have been putting in work for the Black community for decades. When your actions include attempting to destroy careers which could rob a family of needed income, then your motives speak for themselves. I stand with Rev. Mark Thompson.”

The #IStandWithMarkThompson hashtag has been widely embraced by his fans, many of whom follow him online and are avid listeners of his show. They have been aggressively petitioning SiriusXM to get him back on the air, and notable figures like Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, actress Yvette Nicole Brown, and Rev. William Barber, NAACP board member and chair of its legislative political action committee, have all hopped on board to stand in solidarity with Mr. Thompson. Unfortunately, his fate remains in limbo as SiriusXM has yet to make a public statement on his employment status and whether, when, or if, he’ll be allowed back on the airwaves.

“We have had intense interaction and discourse relative to the reparations movement, and the social media activity of #ADOS,” said Dr. Conrad Worrill, a noted Black author, activist and staunch reparations fighter, from his Twitter account. “However, we must not let this social media back-and-forth take us away from our on the ground, grassroots organizing … . Social media discourse has its place in activism and organizing, however, on the ground work is still the mainstay in the protracted fight of the reparations movement.”

While Mr. Thompson continues to maintain an active presence on social media, and in the streets as evidenced by his attendance at a Nipsey Hussle march through the Bronx calling for an end to Black violence, he seems determined not to let the attack deter him from what he sees as a fight to keep the reparations movement from being hijacked.