Oregon Law Review : Vol. 86 No. 1, p. 099-160 : Reconciliation and Nonrepetition: A New Paradigm for African-American Reparations
The contemporary paradigm for African-American reparations fundamentally fails to address what should be its most vital component. Of the three essential elements of a successful reparations campaign–apology, award, and nonrepetition through reconciliation–the most vital is nonrepetition. In past “successful” reparations campaigns, the offending parties have issued apologies and awards, but have neither challenged nor dismantled the attitudes or infrastructures from which wrongful acts emerged, leaving open the likelihood of wrongful acts occurring again. Any campaign that neglects the nonrepetition element runs the risk of strengthening the status quo. In this Article, Professor Burkett argues that in order for a reparations campaign to be a true success for African-Americans, it must include a nonrepetition element. To do so, the reparations movement must embrace a reconciliation model that is forward looking, and concerned with the methods of deterring future bad acts for ultimate, complete, and successful repair. In the current discourse on African-American reparations, Professor Burkett argues, nonrepetition through reconciliation is woefully underemphasized. The incorporation of the nonrepetition element is particularly important in the American context. From the nation’s earliest days, the American political and economic landscape has evolved in a particularly pernicious manner, creating and entrenching a racial and economic hierarchy that persistently subjugates African-Americans and other of-color and lowincome communities. Professor Burkett argues that in this context, a multiracial, multiethnic, and cross-class reconciliation model is vital to the success of the African-American campaign. This broad-based approach, the author maintains, is the only way to ensure nonrepetition.