On Juneteenth last year, a congressional subcommittee convened a first-of-its-kind hearing to discuss how the nation might atone for its “original sin”, as well as the Jim Crow segregation that followed and the modern scourges of mass incarceration, persistent inequality and police violence that still plague African Americans.
Such a commission would have to grapple with profound moral and ethical questions as well as profane matters of money and politics. Proposals vary widely, as do the cost estimates and suggested criteria for eligibility. But at their core is an attempt to make economic amends for historic wrongs.
William Darity, an economist at Duke University and the author of From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century, argues that the wealth disparities between white and black Americans is the “most powerful indicator” of the cumulative economic toll of racial injustice in America.
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