Critical Praxis, Spirit Healing and Community Activism: Preserving a Subversive Dialogue on Reparations
New York University Annual Survey of American Law, Vol. 58, No. 4, pp. 659-698, 2003
40 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2009
Date Written: 2003
African-American reparations have the potential to deconstruct racial privilege, promote racial reconciliation, and heal the psychic injuries of the African-American community. However, many models of reparations have given up on the promise of reparations in exchange for the slim possibility of short-term progress.
A subversive dialogue on African-American reparations, however, will inevitably critique equal opportunity, individualism, and white innocence and privilege. Embraced by the majority, and internalized by the African-American community, the principles of individualism, equal opportunity, and meritocracy reinforce white innocence and privilege to the extent that future, current and past inequality are cast as the natural and inevitable result of poor personal choices.
African-American reparations is a subversive concept to the extent that it has the potential to deconstruct and reveal privileging legal and political principles. More importantly, the discussion will necessitate an outsider understanding of historical events which has the potential to nurture the spirit injuries of the African-American community. As such, the benefits of a struggle for African-American reparations lie primarily in the dialogue itself rather than any negotiated economic compromise.
Deconstructing and addressing white privilege is the only way to avoid the perpetuation of social inequality in the African-American community. Furthermore, spiritual healing without confronting privilege is necessarily impossible as future patterns of inequality, legitimized under the guise of equal opportunity, will serve to reinforce a cultural deficit story. Finally, community cohesiveness cannot be achieved until privilege is revealed and the African-American community heals their spiritual injuries. These interdependent concepts must be pursued simultaneously in order to achieve substantive, long-lasting change.
Keywords: African-American, race, equal opportunity, spiritual healing
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