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Kevin Outterson


Kevin Outterson, The End of Reparations Talk: Reparations in an Obama World, 57 University of Kansas Law Review 935 (May, 2009) (60 Footnotes Omitted)



      Several years ago, I wrote an article on reparations for disparities in Black health in the United States.   The world did little note nor long remember what I said in that article.  But, the University of Kansas Law Review has rescued my thoughts from obscurity, at least temporarily.

      My thesis proceeded in three parts: (1) U.S. disparities in Black health are dangerous and persistent; (2) Black health disparities cannot be viewed in isolation from our history of slavery, racism, and legal segregation; and (3) superficial remedial efforts are not likely to be *936 effective. Only the last point is truly controversial, particularly if the remedy is couched in the language of reparations.

      In this Article, I bring my arguments forward to the present day.  I wish the medical news was more positive.  The statistics about Black health disparities show no improvement.  The caustic history of slavery, racism, and segregation has not been undone.  Fundamental changes are still necessary to repair deficits in Black health.  President Barack Obama's election, however, has changed the relevance of reparations as a political tool for making these changes.  We elected a Black man as President of the United States and he refuses to apply reparations talk to social programs focusing on disadvantaged community uplift.  President Obama strikes broader themes, bypassing slavery reparations.  More to the point, Obama's agenda holds real promise for addressing inequalities and disparities, especially in health care.  At this point, perhaps Black Americans should focus on Obama's plans and let reparations rest as a political agenda.

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