Source: (2003) In John Torpey, ed., Politics and the past: on repairing historical injustices. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Pp. 117-125.

In the last few decades, the question of paying reparations to black Americans as restitution for the legacy of slavery has arisen in the public arena. Were this debate to move toward actual policy, there would be many details to work out, observes Dalton Conley. Implicit in these details are a number of assumptions about the meaning of race, the legacy of slavery, and the structure of opportunity in America with respect to birth and background. Conley maintains that, if there is to be a fruitful discussion about such reparations, it is vital to make these assumptions clear and public. Hence, in this chapter he reflects on the historical context for reparations, contemporary debates about the matter, monetary calculations of reparations, and questions about race and slavery.