From the NYRB – The case for reparations

A thorny subject. Are reparations morally justified? Who pays? How would it be distributed? Who gets it?

One thing that struck me reading this review, was the idea that many of the answers to the above lie imminent within the actions and intentions of the original framers of the legislation. Who did they intend to enslave? Who did they discriminate against? What calculations did they make in accounting for their own commercial activities? And how much did they receive in the many instances they were given recompense for forgoing their abusive and discriminatory practices?

British slavers, for example, received over £20 million (billions in today’s money) in compensation when the practice was ended – should the recipients of such largesse be made to forfeit their gains?