The texts in this section detail major arguments in favor of reparations. These arguments emerge in a variety of disciplines–legal studies, economics, history, sociology, political theory, and philosophy–and are generally focused on arguing for African American reparations.
Allen, Robert L. “Past Due: The African American Quest for Reparations.” Black Scholar 28 (Summer 1998): 2-17.
In this article, Robert Allen begins by recounting the history of the struggle for black reparations in the United States. He then proceeds to take on reparations from the perspective of political economy, arguing that systemic racial inequality in capital and underdevelopment call for forms of economic reparations.
America, Richard F. Paying the Social Debt: What White America Owes Black America. Westport: Praeger, 1993.
In this book, Richard America argues that White America owes a debt to Black America and attempts to calculate it economically. He then shows how this debt arose and suggests ways in which it could be repaid.
America, Richard F. The Wealth of Races: The Present Value of Benefits from Past Injustices. Praeger: 2002.
This collection of essays takes an economic approach to the issue of reparations by addressing the need to collectively redistribute wealth in response to the history of slavery, segregation, and racial discrimination in the United States. The essays take a variety of perspectives, but focus on proposals, justifications, and the possible effects of black reparations.
Asare, William Kweku. Slavery Reparations in Perspective. Trafford Publishing, 2003.
In this book, William Kweku Asare returns to the slave trade as the source of many of the problems facing Africa today and argues that without substancially reckoning with and seeking to redress this history those problems are likely to remain unaddressed.
Baraka, Amiri. The Essence of Reparations. House of Nehesi Publishers, 2003.
In this collection of essays, Amiri Baraka ties the project of reparations to the wider struggle for civil rights and participation in American democracy.
Beckles, Hilary. Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Slavery and Native Genocide. University of West Indies Press, 2013.
In this book, Hilary Beckles argues that reparations are owed from Britain to present-day ancestors of slaves in Caribbean plantations. Noting both the spiritual, physical, and social remnants of slavery in contemoprary Caribbean nations, Beckles presuasively argues for the contemporary necessity of reparations.
Bittker, Boris. The Case for Black Reparations. Boston: Beacon Press, 1972.
This classic legal study argues that the history of slavery and segregation in the United States justifies claims for black reparations. Bittker examines the development of laws designed to address group injustice and finds that they provide a model through which nation-wide reparations could be considered.
Bolner, James. “Toward a Theory of Racial Reparations.” Phylon 29 (1968): 41-47.
Boxill, Bernard. “A Lockean Argument for Black Reparations.” The Journal of Ethics 7.1 (2003): 63-91.
In this essay, Boxill argues for black reparations using the theory of reparations developed in John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government.
Brooks, Roy. Atonement and Forgiveness: A New Model for Black Reparations. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004.
In this book, Roy Brooks reframes the discussion around reparations for slavery from a tort model, which focuses on calculating and justifying compensation for past injustices, to an atonement model, which emphasizes the need for reparations as a part of a government program to apologize for centuries of slavery and segregation.
Brophy, Alfred L. Reparations: Pro and Con. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Reparations: Pro and Con catalogues the major arguments for and against black reparations. Brophy begins by defining reparations and outlining the history of the movement from the 18th century, then proceeds to describe the “pros” and “cons” of reparations as a political and legal project. Ultimately, Brophy does not offer an argument for or against reparations but rather lays out the contemporary debates in the field.
Browne, Robert S. “The Economic Basis for Reparations to Black America.” Review of Black Political Economy 21 (Winter 1993): 99-110.
Cha-Jua, Sundiata Keita. “Slavery, Racist Violence, American Apartheid: The Case for Reparations.” New Politics 8 (2001): 46-64.
Chisolm, Tunneen E. “Sweep Around Your Own Front Door: Examining the Argument for Legislative African American Reparations.” University of Pennsylvania Law Review 147 (January 1999): 677+.
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. “The Case for Reparations.” The Atlantic (2014).
As Ta-Nehisi Coates writes near the end of his article, “Reparations would mean a revolution of the American consciousness, a reconciling of our self-image as the great democratizer with the facts of our history.” His article approaches the case for reparations from an interdisciplinary perspective that stresses the entanglement of economics, politics, and culture, connecting the history of reparations proposals in the United States with the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and its decimation of black wealth.
Cooper, Allan D. “From Slavery to Genocide: The fallacy of Debt in Reparations Discourse.” Journal of Black Studies 43.2 (2012): 107-126.
In this article, Allan Cooper argues that framing reparations through the discourse of a debt owed to black Americans inhibits reparations projects. In contrast, Cooper argues that viewing Jim Crow era policies as genocidal provides the foundation for a more powerful legal argument.
Corlett, Angelo J. Heirs of Oppression: Racism and Reparations. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010.
Davis, Adrenne D. “The Case for Reparations to African Americans.” Human Rights Brief: Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, A Legal Resource for the International Human Rights Community, volume 7, issue 3 (Spring 2000): 3+.
Hakim, Ida. Reparations, the Cure for America’s Race Problem: A Collaborative Effort in Reparations Advocacy by the Founding Members of C.U.R.E. U.B. & U.S. Communication Systems, 1994.
Henry, Charles P. Long Overdue: The Politics of Racial Reparations. New York: NYU Press, 2009.
In this book, Charles P. Henry recounts the history over the fight for reparations in the United States from 40 acres and mule, to the reparations lawsuits in Florida and Oklahoma, and finally to considering the influence of global reparations movements. The book concludes by considering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the continued legacy of racism and segregation today.
Jeffries, Judson L. “Juneteenth, Black Texans and the Case for Reparations.” Negro Educational Review 55.2-3 (2004): 107-115.
In this article, Judson Jeffries argues that black slaves in Texas are owed reparations on the basis that they were held in bondage until 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863.
Kaplan, Jonathan and Andrew Valls. “Housing Discrimination as a Basis for Black Reparations.” Public Affairs Quarterly 21.3 (2007): 255-273.
Rather than turning to slavery as a justification for reparations, Kaplan and Valls argue that a more compelling argument can be made by using the history of segregation, red-lining, and housing discrimination in the United States.
Munford, Clarence J. Race and Reparations: A Black Perspective for the Twenty-First Century. Africa World Press, 1996.
Robinson, Randall. The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks. New York: Plume, 2000.
The Debt makes a powerful argument for reparations by recounting the long history of slavery, segregation, and discrimination in the United States while simultaneously stressing the cultural, material, and social value that blacks have created. Robinson concludes by calling for reparations in the form of a fund used to support the education and economic empowerment of African Americans.
The Reparations at UChicago Working Group. “A Case for Reparations at the University of Chicago.”
Westley, Robert. “Many Billions Gone: Is It Time to Reconsider the Case for Black Reparations?” Boston College Third World Law Journal 19.1 (1998): 429-476.
In this article, Robert Westley revisits legal debates over reparations and argues that reparations should be endorsed as a program of social justice that avoids some of the pitfalls of affirmative action.
Winbush, Raymond (ed.). Should America Pay? Slavery and the Raging Debate on Reparations. New York: Amistad, 2003.