Reparations and Ethics

My wife, who has published two books on slavery, recently gave a presentation to a local group interested in exploring the parallels between slavery and today’s movement for racial justice. One of the first questions was whether reparations were justified and useful.

The question spoke directly to one of the main points my wife had made—that slavery has persisted since ancient times because those who had the privilege of owning slaves were reluctant to give up that privilege. As Americans struggle today with how to begin correcting for our history of racism and inequality, a key question is what and to what extent are the privileged willing to give up their privileges.

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