Pay ‘Institutional’ Reparations


The distinction drawn between reparations for living relatives of people murdered during the Holocaust and descendants of black slaves raises some interesting questions (“Jews Cautious On Reparations For Blacks,” June 28).

I think the distinction is one of relationship. Relatives can clearly trace themselves to specific victims. With descendants, it is not that easy. Perhaps, however, there is a different way to pay reparations. What I suggest is “institutional” instead of “individual” reparations. Payments should be made to black organizations and communities to strengthen their housing, jobs, schools, healthcare and the like.

That said, I also believe that there is a place for individual reparations but in a different context. The post-Civil War years, especially in the 20th century, saw many horrible lynchings and other murders of black Americans, and later in the last century, of civil rights workers — both black and white — by mobs and individuals.

It is the living relatives of these victims who should be considered for reparations. Many mea culpas and apologies have been given. Many perpetrators were tried and convicted But maybe now it is time to talk about money for those relatives.

Westport, Conn.