The Legal and Moral Basis for Reparations

I recently did an op-ed piece for here, on reparations. It begins thus:

Unjust enrichment, and its counterpart, unjust impoverishment, give rise to the idea of restitution. As recently as 2009, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution belatedly apologizing for this country’s oppression of African Americans: “The Congress (A) acknowledges the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow laws; (B) apologizes to African-Americans on behalf of the people of the United States, for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow laws.”

Sadly, these mostly white senators added a disclaimer explicitly barring African Americans from seeking reparations for the role of the government in this officially recognized oppression. Reparations is an issue that arises sporadically because of the three-plus centuries of slavery and Jim Crow on which this country is founded, and one that Ta-Nehisi Coates revives in this month’s Atlantic Monthly.

See the rest for here”>here:


  1. Seattle in Texas

    They fell short of acknowledging the New Jim Crow and ongoing oppression. All that falls into the larger issues of the type of racism that suggests racism is now a thing of the past, etc.

    They aren’t going to give no reparations or even consider that because then they might have to consider the possibility of seriously thinking about things as equality. Perhaps restructuring the criminal justice system where they make significant profits off the black bodies and populations to this day. They might have to think about what desegregation means beyond merely integrating public schools while strictly upholding residential segregation, etc. It would actually mean quite a bit if reparations were considered, including significant backlashes from white society of all social classes, etc.

    The U.S. is a bizarre nation.

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