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Would paying reparations to African Americans as Ta Nehisi Coates suggests, improve race relations in the U.S

Slavery is an attribute of human life that leaves lasting impacts that continue to further generations even after freedom. In this context, American history has a bleak past to rupture, humiliate and brutally annihilate the Black community[1]. In this way, the white ancestors of modern America who captured and robbed the Blacks have portrayed the worst face among all the human generations to known history. The tales of cruelty and genocide are the fundamental foundations upon which the modern civilization of whites has been established. However, to compensate for the loss of such brutal slavery of two hundred and fifty years, Ta Nehisi Coates suggests paying reparations to the offspring of those enslaved families. In this context, this paper will explore that paying reparations would not improve racial relations in America for several reasons. These may include incomplete compensation for losses, the impracticability of a reparations plan, no legal basis by the concerned authorities, a new rivalry that will worsen discrimination, misuse of money and being a counterfeit solution.

Primarily, solid bases would only improve the relations among various races in America. But paying reparations, in this case, will revert backwards instead of improving due to incomplete compensation. For example, Ta Nehisi Coates’ whole essay revolves around three types of losses, i.e., destruction of enslaved families, stolen wealth, and spiritual closure among American nationals. In this context, he calls it… “America’s maturation out of the childhood myth of its innocence” (Part X)[2]. All such types of losses can never be compensated in monetary form. How can one compensate hundreds of years of slavery, unpaid labour, killings, rapes, humiliation, and inhuman deeds to enslaved families in the form of monetary benefits? Such an attempt will enhance the cleavage among various races because the funds will be paid from taxes of those who have nothing to do with such crimes. While on the other side, there would be a denial of compensation in its totality.

Moreover, the dispensation plan of such monetary compensation is impractical. There would be a commission that would decide to whom the reparations should be granted or not. On what basis such a decision would be taken, and how any black American prove his offspring status of an enslaved family, as the current records do not depict complete family trees of the enslaved community? In other words, the execution of such a plan looks like a blue moon. Similarly, there is no legal basis on the part of government authorities and congress to formulate the required law. It looks like paying reparations is the brainchild of some scholars, and authorities used this idea for political gains. Because such a discussion concerning the reparation of slavery has been under discussion for decades and still without any execution.

Additionally, such payment will create a new rivalry among the youth of both white and black communities. Undoubtedly, the present era is facing economic depression, and resultantly, joblessness among youth is increasing magnificently. So, such a reparation mechanism may blow the new wave of discrimination in a new shape. Meanwhile, there is also a chance of misuse of such money on the illegal and criminal sides.

Finally, reparation is a hypothetical and impractical solution to the problem, not the real one. Instead, African American individuals should be given an equal opportunity on a societal, economic, and educational basis to make them self-reliant. They should be given equal opportunities and social respect as it is bestowed to the whites in the U.S. Besides giving them money, ensure they can earn it as much as possible based on ability and capacity. A famous maxim provokes the fact that,

“Give a man a fish, he’ll last it for a day. Teach a man how to fish, he’ll use it for a lifetime.”


Bickford, John H., David Bunton, and Helen Stacy Bunton. “The History, Memorialization, and Modern Echoes of Blackbirding.” Multicultural Curriculum Transformation in Social Studies and Civic Education, 2021, 123.

“The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates – The Atlantic.” Accessed October 23, 2022.

John H. Bickford, David Bunton, and Helen Stacy Bunton, “The History, Memorialization, and Modern Echoes of Blackbirding,” Multicultural Curriculum Transformation in Social Studies and Civic Education, 2021, 123.

“The Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates – The Atlantic,” accessed October 23, 2022,



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