White Americans Can No Longer Delay The Moral Reckoning Of Reparations


Photo: Slaves bringing in the cotton harvest. Hand-colored woodcut of a 19th-century illustration. (North Wind Picture Archives via AP Images)

Dec 01, 2021

The call for reparations is a moral reckoning white Americans can no longer delay, according to Eileen Rivers, a member of the USA Today editorial board since 2008.

“The history of Black oppression, its relevance, and the need for atonement have to be recognized by every white person in America,” Rivers wrote in an opinion piece for USA Today.

While working on a project about reparations, Rivers said she came to the conclusion that reparations should no longer be delayed. “Repairing America,” a six-month USA Today project, explores reparations and the fight for social justice in the U.S.

Rivers, who is Black, is the opinion projects editor for USA Today. She works on projects and video, social media, and web editing for the opinion department. She’s also the founder and editor of USA Today’s online vertical, Policing the USA.

For the “Repairing America” project, USA Today is publishing first-person accounts from people who lost loved ones in the race massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, explaining how racism has prevented Black people from obtaining wealth and examining how Black activists are pushing for reparations. 

While working on the project, Rivers said she came across white people who were for reparations, although a nationwide poll conducted by the University of Massachusetts Amherst/WCVB in April found only 28 percent of whites support reparations.

“That there are white people who believe in reparations for the pain and suffering of Black America didn’t surprise me. But the fact there are white allies who believe in reparations strongly enough to help persuade other white Americans to act did surprise me,” wrote Rivers.

There was one organization formed by a white company called Caucasians United For Reparations and Emancipation (CURE) to promote the idea of reparations to fellow white Americans as a form of redemption. CURE’s founder, Ida Hakim, even petitioned the United Nations to back reparations for the Black descendants of U.S. slavery. CURE is no longer active.

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