Calculating Slavery Reparations: Theory, Numbers and Implications

Conley, D.
Politics and the Past: On Repairing Historical Injustices. Edited by John Torpey. Rowan and Littlefield,

The possibility of paying reparations to black Americans as restitution for the legacy of slavery has made a recent comeback in the popular discourse. If and when this debate moves toward actual policy, there will be many details to be worked out on how to arrive at the "right" number. Implicit in each of these details is a set of assumptions not just about the meaning of race and the legacy of slavery but about how opportunity in America is structured by birth and background more generally. Putting these assumptions on the table is important if we are to have a fruitful debate about how to rectify inequities of the past.