Is the case for reparations still open?

By | May 16, 2016

The concept of reparations for slavery in the United States has long been a controversial one, but a new poll suggests that a younger generation of Americans may be warming up to the idea.

According to an exclusive Point Taken-Marist poll released on Wednesday in conjunction with a new PBS series entitled “Point Taken,” while 68 percent of the public opposes some form of financial compensation to the African-American descendants of slaves, millennials appear to be more open to it, with 40 percent saying there should be reparations and another 11 percent saying they were unsure. Meanwhile, 49 percent of millennial respondents said they opposed reparations. The fact that millennials are significantly more diverse than their elders (2010 Census data showed that 44.2 percent identify as part of a minority race or ethnic group) may have been a contributing factor in the results.

Still, this poll could also be viewed as the outcome of reparations supporters becoming increasingly vocal. Acclaimed author and columnist Ta-Nehisi Coates’ widely shared 2014 column “The Case for Reparations” reignited the debate and later led to a minor 2016 campaign kerfuffle when the writer took radical Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders to task for dismissing the idea as “divisive” (Coates later supported his candidacy anyway.) This January, a panel of United Nations experts recommended in a report that U.S. lawmakers in Washington, D.C., take up the cause of reparations. (MSNBC)

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