Precollege Philosophy and Public Practice

Volume 4, Spring 2022

John Torrey
Pages 51-67

Beyond the Bank: Justice, Injustice, and Black Reparations

In this article, I provide an overview of the arguments for reparations for Black Americans, a topic that has gained significant steam in recent years, and offer a criticism of how reparations are commonly understood as financial compensation. I begin by providing the basic argument in support for reparations: Systemic racial injustices committed against Black Americans violated their rights; these violations should be considered an ongoing, enduring injustice; and such violations require restitution in the form of reparations. I argue that there are unforeseen problematic results of economic-repair-centered reparations programs, most concerning that the resources offered ignore the social or economic status of large portions of the Black communities they acknowledge harming. Offering two legislative attempts at reparations as examples, I argue that reparatory policies for Black Americans should utilize the framework of rectificatory justice in order to best attempt to set an unjust situation right.