Avoiding Another Step in a Series of Unfortunate Legal Events: A Consideration of Black Life under American Law from 1619 to 1972 and a Challenge to Prevailing Notions of Legally Based Reparations

43 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2007 Last revised: 20 Feb 2012

Carlton Waterhouse

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Abstract

The growing body of literature on reparations consists primarily of articles showing that black reparations are consistent with various legal theories, promote racial justice, or further broader societal goals like eliminating poverty and promoting education. This article takes the distinct position of challenging reparations supporters to justify their confidence in the legal system to deliver meaningful reparations for slavery and segregation in light of the historic use of law as a means of instantiating white racial supremacy and the prospective individualistic approach to race adopted by contemporary judges and legislators. The article also challenges those who oppose reparations based on its supposed unfairness to contemporary citizens to explain how their position differs from that of past generations who opposed reparations and related legal efforts to redress racial injustices as unfair at that time. To support the challenge to reparations commentators, the article examines the historical framework of blacks' relationship to the law through legislation and court rulings from 1619-1963. The article closes by presenting an alternative approach to reparations focused on building and strengthening black political, economic, and educational institutions.

Keywords: Black, life, under Ameerican, law, challenge, prevailing, notions, legally based, reparations

Suggested Citation

Waterhouse, Carlton, Avoiding Another Step in a Series of Unfortunate Legal Events: A Consideration of Black Life under American Law from 1619 to 1972 and a Challenge to Prevailing Notions of Legally Based Reparations. Boston College Third World Law Journal, 2006; Florida International University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-7. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1018562

Carlton Mark Waterhouse (Contact Author)

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law ( email )

530 West New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States

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