Race and Social Justice
Reparations Deserve a Seat at the Table
As a white woman of privilege, reparations to provide race and social justice gave me pause at first. Really, you just pay people off and that solves the problem? But as a mediator and as a human being, I know it's time to challenge my own biases. And it's time to urge others to consider reparations as one of the viable solutions to racial injustice when engaged in mediation or other forms of conflict resolution.
On a large scale, reparations compensate people and communities for something that cannot be returned. Countries pay reparations when lives have been lost, communities destroyed or rights violated. Like compensatory damages in a legal context, reparations are meant to return the wronged to where they were, prior to the wrongdoing.
One example is the 1988 Civil Liberties Act. This law made reparations available to Japanese Americans forcibly removed from their homes and placed in internment camps during World War II. Similarly, reparations should be an option to right the wrongs of slavery, Jim Crow laws, redlining and mass incarceration.
Some localities have already begun paying reparations. Georgetown University is one such example. Because they sold slaves in the 1830s, they decided to pay reparations to their descendants. And Chicago is another example. They passed a law providing reparations for hundreds of African Americans tortured by the police.  Chicago's law not only provides financial compensation to past victims, but also money for public memorials and mental health and education programs. Presently there is a bill before Congress to pay reparations on a national level.
In workplace or community mediation where race and social justice are at issue, reparations might be a proposed solution. A wronged party might want the organization to fund projects that benefit their community for example.
Through mediation and facilitated dialogue, people can freely discuss the pros and cons of their ideas. A good mediator will move the conversation forward by asking questions and encouraging the parties to explore rather than dismiss the possibilities.
The question is not whether reparations should be an option but how reparations play into the bigger picture of resolving the racial divide and providing social justice.
 Weiner, Brian A. “Sins of the Parents” Temple University Press (2005)
 102 Stat. 904, 50a U.S.C. § 1989b et seq. https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/100/hr442
 Ta-Nehesi Coates makes the case for reparations in his article in the Atlantic Monthly. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/.
 H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/40
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