Reparations and Other Solutions


First, for the sake of argument, let it be said that it is possible to find a way to decrease the disparity that exists between different races and economic strata. What is the "best" way to reach this goal? "Best" here is defined as 1) finding a way that will not lead to greater animosity between individuals for the sake of making them more equal; 2)finding a way that will encourage further decreases in disparity in the future, and not just a bandage to put on a wound that keeps on festering and 3) finding a way that makes those who gain by a decision not feel demeaned or patronized, but rather better about themselves and their culture.

One possible way of decreasing disparity, as discussed in "Past Due: The African-American Quest for Reparations " by Robert Allen and "The Economics of Reparations" by William Darrity Jr. And Dania Frank, is to "heed the call for reparations" and for African-Americans to gain "compensation for the enslavement of their ancestors." However, would such a mandated reparation payment resolve the actual disparity that exists? Would it reduce the animosity between individuals? Would it encourage further decreases in disparity in the future and not just cover up a deep societal cut? and, lastly, would reparation make people feel proud rather than demeaned or patronized?

In another publication, Robert Allen's classic Black Awakening in Capitalist

America, Allen, himself, answers these questions by stating that one of the pitfalls of such a reparation movement could actually be the ongoing empowerment and economic advancement of the new black elite at the expense of the masses of working class and poor peoples. This can be called "embourgeoisment" or the bourgeoisification of reparations.

Darity and Frank believe that the wealth redistribution gained through a one-time payment of reparations will lead to the desired transformation of African-American economic prospects. It is true that a significant reduction in economic inequality may be a necessity to for equal opportunity. However, are just these reparations enough to further African-American economic independence, especially with such poor populations still existing in this country -- as well as worldwide? Further, going back to the same three questions above, do such reparations actually end racism or just heal it for a the short-term?

In the chapter "Interracial Goals," Arthur Lewis looks at the three approaches of a homogeneous state, the raceless state and the plural society in terms of helping the different races live together in peace. He analyzes how each of these three approaches have worked in society to date and notes that the first two the homogeneous state and the raceless state are not feasible. The first will not work, because partition cannot be effected equitably and without leaving too many people on the wrong side of the border; the second similarly will not be feasible unless both majority and minority parties wish to live together on such terms. Thus, one is left with the third approach of the plural society. Lewis notes that as a long-run goal it is inferior to theā€¦