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An African Model the US Can Follow to Redress Racial Issues

South Africa, fresh from its abhorrent past as a haven of segregation regulated by the white-minority government, was the first to boldly confront that trauma headlong. Nelson Mandela, who served a 27-year jail sentence on his way to becoming the first president in the post-apartheid era, established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 1994. Guatemala, Nigeria, Rwanda and other countries followed suit. Those countries’ experiences show that commissions are hardly a cure-all, but it’s a path worth considering as the United States encounters its own demons amid nationwide protests. Critics called it a “Kleenex Commission,” saying offenders got away too easily. Tutu himself has said the TRC has “unfinished business,” calling for reparations, a one-off wealth tax and prosecution of those denied amnesty by today’s authorities. Nigeria’s TRC only focused on the military regimes and not the civil war that preceded them, but left a trail of hurt still present today. Rwandans agreed to extensively discuss their large-scale hurt through the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) and also built monuments to victims, rather than the trespassers.