The case for reparations

By | March 8, 2019

David Brooks writes:

Nearly five years ago I read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Atlantic article “The Case for Reparations,” with mild disagreement. All sorts of practical objections leapt to mind. What about the recent African immigrants? What about the poor whites who have nothing of what you would call privilege? Do we pay Oprah and LeBron?

But I have had so many experiences over the past year — sitting, for example, with an elderly black woman in South Carolina shaking in rage because the kids in her neighborhood face greater challenges than she did growing up in 1953 — that suggest we are at another moment of make-or-break racial reckoning.

Coates’s essay seems right now, especially this part: “And so we must imagine a new country. Reparations — by which I mean the full acceptance of our collective biography and its consequences — is the price we must pay to see ourselves squarely. … What I’m talking about is more than recompense for past injustices — more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant bribe. What I’m talking about is a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal.”

We’re a nation coming apart at the seams, a nation in which each tribe has its own narrative and the narratives are generally resentment narratives. The African-American experience is somehow at the core of this fragmentation — the original sin that hardens the heart, separates Americans from one another and serves as model and fuel for other injustices. [Continue reading…]

Gabrielle Bruney writes:

While Brooks doesn’t talk about models for reparations, or give any details as to what justice might look like, Coates outlined in his essay one mode of historical reparations that proved successful: After the holocaust, Germany paid reparations to Israel. Although Coates noted that Holocaust reparations had an important symbolic and political resonance, it also had very concrete outcomes. Germany paid the equivalent of more than $8 billion dollars to Israel, not including individual reparation claims, which Israel invested in its merchant fleet, railways, and electrical system. Over the more than a decade of payments, income from reparations drive 15 percent of Israel’s economy. [Continue reading…]

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