The mission of the Racial Justice Ministry is to “raise awareness and understanding of and engagement with racial identity and racism, including our individual and collective opportunities to achieve racial justice.” This document is intended to raise awareness and understanding of reparations by providing a collection of print and video resources. As you consider the issue of reparations, consider these questions:
- What does the term “reparations” refer to?
- What are the arguments for and against reparations?
- What would be the purpose (or purposes) of reparations?
- What might reparations in the US look like? What form (or forms) should reparations take? Is it only about money? Is it only about payments to individuals?
- Does the US have any past experience with reparations?
A textbook definition of reparations is “the act of making amends, offering expiation, or giving satisfaction for a wrong or injury” (Note 1). The International Center for Transitional Justice describes reparations as “meant to recognize and address the harms suffered and acknowledge the wrongdoing.” Reparations have both material and symbolic benefits and can take multiple forms, including “financial compensation, restoring civil and political rights, erasing unfair criminal convictions, physical rehabilitation, and granting access to land, health care, or education.” Reparations are sometimes “provided to victims’ family members, often children, in recognition that providing them with a better future is an important way to overcome the enduring consequences of the violations” (Note 2).
- Note 1: Merriam-Webster Dictionary online. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reparation
- Note 2: International Center for Transitional Justice: Reparations (2020). https://www.ictj.org/our-work/transitional-justice-issues/reparations
- Blakemore, Erin (August 2019). The thorny history of reparations in the United States. History Online. https://www.history.com/news/reparations-slavery-native-americans-japanese-internment
- Brooks, Roy L. (2019). Atonement and forgiveness: A new model for Black reparations. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
- Brown Douglas, Kelly. (July 202). A Christian call for reparations. Sojourners. https://sojo.net/magazine/july-2020/christian-call-case-slavery-reparations-kelly-brown-douglas
- Coates, Ta-Nehisi (June 2014). The case for reparations. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/
- Criss, Doug (2019). People are again talking about slavery reparations. But it’s a complex and thorny issue. CNNPolitics. https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/14/politics/slavery-reparations-explainer-trnd/index.html
- Darity, William A., Jr. & Mullen, A. Kirsten (2020). From here to equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the twenty-first century. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
- Davis, Allen J. (July 2020). Reparations in the United States: An historical timeline of reparations payments made from 1783 through 2020 by the United States government, states, cities, religious institutions, colleges and university, and corporations. UMass Amherst, Libraries. https://guides.library.umass.edu/reparations
- Epstein, Richard A. (2004). The case against Black reparations. 84 Boston University Law Review 1177 (2004). https://chicagounbound.uchicago.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2323&context=journal_articles
- Frum David (2014). The impossibility of reparations. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/06/the-impossibility-of-reparations/372041/
- Hannah-Jones, Nikole (June 28, 2020). What is owed. The New York Times Magazine. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/06/24/magazine/reparations-slavery.html?login=email&auth=forgot-password&referring_pv_id=mASvxodPQpKjh2GRa6kK_Evn
- H.R. 40 (116th Congress, (2019-2020). Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act. Sponsor: Rep. Jackson-Lee, Sheila (D-TX-18). https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/40
- Luckerson, Victor (2020). Making amends for a massacre: The story of Rosewod’s path to reparations – and what America can learn from it. Time. https://time.com/5887247/reparations-america-rosewood-massacre/
- Roos, Dave (2019). 7 key questions in the US slavery reparations debate. howstuffworks – culture. https://people.howstuffworks.com/slavery-reparations.htm
- Schlack, Julie W. (June 27, 2019). Why I changed my mind on the reparations debate. Cognoscenti Commentary. https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2019/06/27/the-case-for-reparations-julie-wittes-schlack
Audio and Video Resources
- Democracy Now (2019). Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates makes the case for reparations at historic congressional hearing (video, 8:14). https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&p=the+case+for+reparations+video#id=1&vid=a2ea517a6a2be766f4612e736e6e8a37&action=click
- Epstein, Richard (May 17, 2014). The case against reparations for slavery. Hoover Institution. https://www.hoover.org/research/case-against-reparations-slaveryhttps://www.hoover.org/research/case-against-reparations-slavery
- Gross, Terry (June 24, 2020). A call for reparations: How America might narrow the racial wealth gap. An interview with Nikole Hannah-Jones. NPR Fresh Air (audio, 42:00). https://www.npr.org/2020/06/24/882773218/a-call-for-reparations-how-america-might-narrow-the-racial-wealth-gap