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Andrew Valls (2007). Reconsidering the Case for Black Reparations In Jon Miller and Rahul Kumar, ed., Reparations: Interdisciplinary Inquiries, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, Pp. 114-129.

"The chapter focuses on four sources of misunderstanding. The first is thinking of black reparations as reparations for slavery, as opposed to reparations for the whole history of racial injustice, including the Jim Crow era. I argue that this is inaccurate and has a way of undermining some of the strongest bases for black reparations. The second is the notion that reparations in general and black reparations in particular necessarily involve direct payments to individuals. This I argue, is a mistaken understanding of the nature of reparations and ignores the wide range of policies that a reparations program could include. Third, I address the concern that focusing on black reparations is a strategic or political error because it draws attention to two things that many Americans seem not to want to discuss: the past and race. It is better on this view, to pursue a class-based coalition that will also address racial inequality, if indirectly. I argue to the contrary that failure to draw attention to the past and to racial inequality itself weakens the argument for policies necessary to address racial inequality and is therefore a strategic mistake. I also argue that such strategic considerations do not touch the substantive moral issue of whether reparations are justified. Fourth, I consider philosophical arguments against focusing on the past and on race, particularly the argument that forward-looking egalitarian moral and political theories are superior to backward-looking arguments for black reparations. I argue to the contrary that race-blind egalitarian theories of justice fail to address -- both materially and symbolically -- the distinctive racial dimension of inequality in American society. In the conclusion I point to some hopeful -- and some worrying -- developments in the pursuit of black reparations and racial reconciliation." (excerpt)


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