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Reparations in the United States have been a topic of conversation since the 20th century, primarily focused on the long-term effects of the country’s enslavement of African people and their descendants. Reparations include monetary compensation, restoration of rights, and equitable access to education, land, and health care. Primarily in the United States, the current reparations conversation in the public sphere involves reparations for descendants of formerly enslaved people, though other populations including Native Americans and Japanese Americans have been the targets of measures meant to address historical injustices. 

Various groups have different ideas surrounding how reparations could look, including direct cash payments, national apology, housing and educational programs, free college tuition or student debt elimination, financial assistance for repatriation to African nations, and preservation of Black monuments and sacred sites. Oakland, California, in 2021 launched a pilot program that gave a guaranteed income to people who are below a certain income threshold and prioritized applicants who were Black, Indigenous, or a person of color — a program the LA Times referred to as a “test case for reparations.”

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Reparations involve the legal acknowledgment of human rights violations to a person or group of people along with benefits that compensate for loss. Generally in the United States, this refers to the descendants of formerly enslaved people; giving some explanation of the concept adds essential context.