Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? (Class of 2019)

Subject Area

American history; Minority & ethnic groups; Race relations; Social justice


As part of the English 101.003 Writing Seminar taught by Dr. Anne Porter in Fall 2015 at Providence College, this essay was written in response to an assignment to articulate a central question about slavery reparations. The essay explores the question from various angles and makes reference to Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? by Michael J. Sandel, “The Case for Reparations” from The Atlantic (June 2014) by Ta-Nehisi Coates, as well as at least one additional, scholarly source. The essay is written for college-age readers, who are interested in the issue and asking the same questions.

Abstract: In response to escalating racial tensions in American society, this essay analyzes the feasibility of reparations for racial injustices. As evidenced by historic orders like ³Forty Acres and a Mule², the government has failed to fulfill its promises to pay, only further perpetuating inequality. There is controversy as to whether reparations are still due and how they can be quantified. This essay evaluates the present-day value of these historic unfulfilled promises and assesses if this valuation could be used as a solution to the reparations debate. If America is able to quantify the value of reparations, the question remains whether it is the duty of modern-day American citizens to right the wrongs of the past.


Providence College


Fall 11-3-2015