Thanks to Ta-Nehisi Coates, the fraught notion of reparations for African Americans is being discussed again. As well it should be. Do read the article.
Here's his conclusion:
The special strength of Coates' article is that he introduces us to living African Americans who have suffered measurable damage to their economic life chances, as well as to their security and human dignity. Reparations aren't only about the past injustices of slavery, debt peonage, and Jim Crow law; the discussion is also about individuals and communities disadvantaged by white supremacy today.
In the context of absorbing Coates' historical and ethical tour de force, it is both encouraging and daunting to learn that, just this month, some African-descended Nova Scotians have finally received official recognition and some recompense for terrible past abuses. Their story is moving:
There will be a public inquiry -- pointedly described as "non-prosecutorial" -- into what happened to poor black orphans lodged at the Nova Scoita Home for Colored Children between 1921 and 1989. The abuse survivors, perhaps as many as 100, will share in a $29 million fund created by the provincial government.
In an irony that Coates would undoubtedly appreciate, the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children was a black community project according to a short history published by Solidarity Halifax.
But something went terribly wrong in the "refuge" that white exclusion forced black Nova Scotians to build. Leading plaintiffs in the class action suit brought to an end by the settlement reported they were beaten, forced to fight each other, as well as being sexually abused. At this link, you can watch a video clip and experience the dignified delight with which formerly abused adults greeted the legal agreement with the province.
Even small gestures of delayed justice can help to heal individuals; reparations is about healing the community as a whole.