Published January 26, 2023
Advocates for making government reparations to Black Americans in recompense for chattel slavery remain frustrated at their lack of progress. A recent draft reparations plan offered by the San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee is an example of why that is so.
The moral case for reparations is straightforward: Black Americans were unique in their suffering from slavery, subsequently experiencing discrimination both legally (think Jim Crow laws) and socially (think refusals to hire or sell homes to Black individuals). This has disadvantaged Black people in terms of wealth, security and social status. Reparations are therefore justified, in this view, to make Black Americans whole and place them on an equal footing with their fellow citizens.
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Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, studies and provides commentary on American politics. His work focuses on how America’s political order is being upended by populist challenges, from the left and the right. He also studies populism’s impact in other democracies in the developed world.
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