I’m still not clear why white Americans should make reparations to Black Americans. Please explain.

The case for reparations to descendants of enslaved people is quite simple: African-Americans were forcibly taken from their homes in Africa, enslaved and forced to work for white Americans for over 250 years in abysmal conditions with no remuneration. The “40 acres and a mule” promised to each black family upon emancipation was never delivered.  Even after emancipation, practices such as sharecropping and enactment of Jim Crow laws ensured that African Americans were economically hamstrung, effectively barred from participating in the American Dream. These practices continue to this day, evolving with the times.

The U.S. made reparations to Japanese-Americans who were incarcerated in U.S. camps during WWII.

Germany made reparations to holocaust survivors and Israel after WWII as payment for the holocaust.

It’s time.


My family arrived in America with nothing. I’m blue collar; I have no advantages over blacks. Why would I owe reparations?

Just being white entitles us to advantages that black people do not have. Most white people can be confident that if we approach a police officer, we will be treated fairly. We can assume that we will not be stopped by the police as we walk or drive through our neighborhoods, or be asked to leave our dormitory for looking “suspicious.” Most white people attending school will be surrounded by people who look like us, be taught by teachers who look like us. Products and services are marketed to us; if we enter a store, we can be sure we will see the products we need on the shelves. We white people live in a world that underscores and assures our advantage.

While you may not have time or money with which to make reparations, kindness is an extremely valuable form of making reparations.


I believe America is a meritocracy; don’t black people just need to work harder for their slice of the American pie?

Slavery lasted for 250 years; Jim Crow laws persisted for 75 years; it was illegal for African-Americans to even read or to vote for many years. Today, segregation, redlining and predatory lending practices ensure that African-American neighborhoods exist in a persistent state of disinvestment. Schools in these neighborhoods, therefore, do not receive the same level of tax dollars as do schools in affluent neighborhoods. The cycle of poverty continues unabated. White Americans have many invisible advantages that most Black Americans do not have. If the playing field is not level, “just working harder” will not be effective.


Sure, my ancestors enslaved people, but isn't it wrong to judge our ancestors by today's standards?

Author Zandra Vranes comments on FB:

"If our ancestors were on the wrong side of history it’s not because the times were different, it’s because THEY were INDIFFERENT to the oppression of their fellow man. It’s because THEY wanted to believe that wrong was right because it benefited them, BUT WRONG WAS NEVER RIGHT. Today we can’t get away with SOME of the wrongs our ancestors were empowered to commit. But it’s not the WRONG that changed, it’s not the STANDARD that changed, it’s the CONSEQUENCE."


Slavery was hundreds of years ago; why can’t black people just get over it?

When institutional racism has been eradicated and black people reach economic parity with white people – maybe then black people can “just get over it.”


The people who were enslaved are long dead; reparations might be owed to them, but how would one pay?

Excellent point.  In fact, you're in luck - there is a way to make reparations to those Africans who were enslaved: you can fund the maintenance of civil war gravesites where African American soldiers are buried.  Unlike sites where white solders are buried, African American burial sites are typically not maintained, or may have even disappeared over the years due to lack of funding for their maintenance. Another opportunity is to fund restoration of slave burial sites on plantations; these areas also suffer from neglect.  Good thinking!   


Hasn’t Affirmative Action taken care of the need for reparations?

Affirmative Action programs in education and private sector jobs, while largely effective for (primarily white) women, have not had the same level of impact for people of color. Unequal access to education and training resources compounds the problem resulting in fewer POC who may be qualified to apply for these positions. While Affirmative Action endeavors to level the playing field for applicants, the playing field remains uneven in many other areas.


I am African American and I need some financial help. Can you assist me?

While we acknowledge that institutional racism has caused a significant disparity in African Americans' ability to build wealth and to prosper, individual requests for assistance are beyond the capability of this platform.  We recommend posting a request on Natasha Marin's individual reparations site, Reparations Requests and Offerings.    

What kind of reparations do you advocate?

This is a complex issue and there is no definitive answer, as yet.  HR-40 would establish a commission to study the issue, and determine appropriate types of reparations including an array of possible social programs and legislative redress. The most controversial form of reparations is the direct cash payment.

Until a national commission is established to study this issue, we advocate that white families make reparations based on their individual circumstances and histories.  

So, if I make some sort of reparations, will I then be absolved of the sins of my ancestors?

The debt to the descendants of enslaved Africans is incalculable.  Nothing we can do as individuals can absolve us from this debt.  However, if we have inherited any of our ancestors’ best qualities, we can employ them to heal the racial divide, to make this world a better place, for African Americans and for ourselves.

Why isn't this portal run by African Americans?

There are many reparations sites that are run by African American led organizations, including NCOBRA and ADOS. 

This portal links to these sites and follows their lead; however it is incumbent on white people to actually make reparations.  This site is focused on giving white people as much background as possible on the theory of reparations as well as giving concrete examples of the many innovative ways to make reparations - all with the goal of achieving racial healing in the US.


What is your accountability policy?

This portal does not have an accountability policy, per se.  It is up to white people visiting this site to determine what reparations they will make and then be accountable in making them.    

Um, so you're taking my house?

Yes, we'll be right over; just leave the keys under the mat.  Oh, and we'll take the corgi too.