Taking reparations seriously

But it should not take much thought to acknowledge that by accident of birth people like me—and John Roberts—are the beneficiaries of what is, effectively, the most successful affirmative action program in human history. We are white males born to educated and financially secure parents at the height of the American century. One need not be “woke” to be aware.

That’s not guilt—it’s simply fact. Compared to the great majority of African-Americans, John Roberts and I were born on America’s third base, free to use our talents and hard work to reach home. It is foolish to imagine that society can ameliorate every consequence of circumstance; unavoidably, some people will always have advantages over others. But it is worse than foolish to deny that the social and racial inequities which favored us persist today—or to imagine that “race-blindness” provides a sufficient response.

The case for doing better is practical and moral, and transcends ideology. As long as the legacy of racial discrimination persists, we are squandering human potential—economic and social—to America’s collective loss.

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