Do Black Americans Need Their Own Group? Yes, But ADOS Fails Royally

Xenophobia has crept in, and it's funking up the movement

Allison Wiltz
Published in
8 min readDec 13, 2021


A black Union soldier and his family during the Civil War | Photo Credit | New York Times

First, let me say that I am an American descendant of slavery, and I believe that we deserve reparations for the demonstrable practices of slavery and Jim Crow that characterizes so much of the Black American experience. “Black people were enslaved here longer than we have been free.”

Even though General William T. Sherman' promised every descendant of slavery would receive 40 acres and a mule, we all know how that turned out. One hundred and fifty-six years later, Black Americans are still waiting for the restorative justice White men promised. The mission of the American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) movement is admirable, noble even.

Many Americans don't realize that reparations were already being issued in money and property but were returned after Lincoln died, ending the program. "Andrew Johnson, Lincoln's successor and a sympathizer with the South, overturned the Order in the fall of 1865, and, as Barton Myers sadly concludes, returned the land along the South Carolina, Georgia and Florida coasts to the planters who had originally owned it— to the very people who had declared war on the United States of America." So, it's not a matter of whether or not Black Americans should receive reparations, but when and how America honors its commitment.

When I read Nikole Hannah-Jones' 1619 Project dedication page, I was amazed that she said this book was for "the more than thirty million descendants of American slavery." While I’ve seen books dedicated to family members or personal heroes, I’ve never seen a book dedicated to American descendants of slavery. Those words seemed to dance across the page, calling attention to a group in search of understanding, exploration, and one-day restoration.

While ADOS has a noble mission, they've gotten caught in the crosswires of xenophobia. Ironically, many of those I've confronted about these beliefs don't know what the term means, so I won't assume anymore. Xenophobia refers to the fear, subsequent discrimination, and hatred of foreigners. Anyone is capable of hating foreigners though there is a caveat…



Allison Wiltz

Womanist Scholar bylines @ Momentum, Oprah Daily, ZORA, GEN, EIC of Cultured #WEOC Founder