David Brooks Changes His Mind on Reparations

'Times' columnist thinks they might be the only way to heal the race divide
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2019 2:50 PM CST
David Brooks Changes His Mind on Reparations
In this Sept. 14, 1960, file photo, an unidentified black man eats at a lunch counter in Tampa, Fla. He was one of 70 who took part in breaking segregation barriers at 18 lunch counters in the city. They traveled from store to store, one or two at a time, and received service from white waitresses at...   (AP Photo/File)

Five years ago, one of the most prominent black pundits, Ta-Nehisi Coates, made the case that the US should pay reparations to African-Americans over slavery. At the time, New York Times columnist David Brooks, who is white, was skeptical. "What about the recent African immigrants?" he recalls thinking. "What about the poor whites who have nothing of what you would call privilege? Do we pay Oprah and LeBron?" In his latest Times op-ed, however, Brooks is fully on board after his travels around the country. He argues that the US is at a "moment of make-or-break racial reckoning," and that reparations might be the only solution.

"We’re a nation coming apart at the seams," writes Brooks, and "the African-American experience is somehow at the core of this fragmentation—the original sin that hardens the heart, separates Americans from one another and serves as model and fuel for other injustices." He acknowledges that reparations would be a "drastic" remedy with daunting logistics. "But the very act of talking about and designing them heals a wound and opens a new story." Click to read his full column. (More reparations stories.)

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