Reconsidering Reparations by Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò
Courtesy of Politics and Prose

We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Reconsidering Reparations

Since City Paper alum Ta-Nehisi Coates’s groundbreaking essay on the topic, the proposal for reparations for U.S. slavery has moved from the margins of political debate to center stage. Some presidential candidates announced their support for the proposal during 2020 debates, and scholars such as William A. Darity Jr. have outlined in recent years how, not just why, reparations should be distributed to Black Americans for chattel slavery. Reconsidering Reparations, a new book advancing a different case for reparations, has joined the fray. Written by Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò, an assistant professor of philosophy at Georgetown University, the book anchors its conception of reparations with climate change and distributive justice in mind. Táíwò argues that reparations should be targeted toward building a better social order. Slavery and colonialism are directly tied to our present-day climate crisis, he says, and reparations should be organized with those issues in mind. He argues that reparations should be an act of self-determination for people in the present and the future, rather than just a Band-Aid for wrongs committed in the past. “What reparations is for me on the constructive view, is the achievement of a target—building the just world,” Táíwò explains in an interview with podcast For the Wild. “The distribution of benefits and burdens in that construction project.” The author will unpack exactly what that could look like in a Politics and Prose virtual discussion with Brandon Hogan, an associate professor of philosophy at Howard University. The virtual talk starts at 5 p.m. on Feb. 6. Free.