Making the Public Health Case for Reparations

About the Project

The FXB Center’s Making the Public Health Case for Reparations project seeks to explore Black reparations as a public health strategy to help to eliminate racial disparities in health outcomes and achieve health equity. Scholarship on the need, and potential form, of reparations to U.S. descendants of slavery has not engaged public health researchers sufficiently. This project centers on exploring and addressing this gap.

Support for this project was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

Landscape Report

In February 2022, the FXB Center released “Making the Public Health Case for Reparations: Landscape Report,” a first-of-its-kind report on reparations for Black Americans. The report considers whether longstanding racial health inequities could be mitigated by reparations efforts with the goal of engaging more health scholars in this conversation. Read the report.

Summary of National Efforts

From a national lens, several U.S. jurisdictions have taken the initiative to model reparation efforts, which includes: Asheville, North Carolina; Durham, North Carolina; Evanston, Illinois; and the state of California. In addition, Mayors Organized for Reparations and Equity (MORE) includes 11 mayors in cities across America with shared justice commitments and strategies to fund pilot programs for reparations.

Leading with the most progress in reparation efforts, Evanston, Illinois has been the first and only city to repay its Black residents with cash payments. Its $25,000 payments can only be utilized for home infrastructure and will be given to 16 Black residents of its 12,000 in total. The payments will be the pilot steps in the pledge to allocate $10 million over the next 10 years.

The MORE coalition was formed in anticipation of the declaration of Juneteenth as a federal holiday and includes cities within California, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas, Missouri, Colorado, and Minnesota. The coalition has shared commitments that aim at locating funding for pilot reparation programs, creating Black-led advisory committees, and urging the federal government to pass H.R. 40 (Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act).

For a handful of these cities—Los Angeles, Austin, Durham, Asheville, and Providence—efforts are focused on studying their individual injustices of the past upon their residents. However, none of the cities have progressed far enough to solidify a specific spending budget on reparations. Overall, most of these cities have not decided what subset of the population will receive reparations or what form it may be. Accordingly, the nation’s overall progress towards reparations can be described as in its infancy stages. The next steps, after conducting studies, appear to be locating funding for pilot reparation programs and deciding which residents will benefit from a specific reparations form.

Related Work

Note: This work is not supported by the Making the Public Health Case for Reparations project.

FXB Center Publications on Reparations

Gilman, Matlin, and Mary T. Bassett. “It’s Time For Boston To Pay Reparations.” It’s Time For Boston To Pay Reparations | Cognoscenti, WBUR, 18 June 2021, [link]

Matache, Margareta. “It Is Time Reparations Are Paid for Roma Slavery.” Racism | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 5 Oct. 2020, [link]

Bhabha, Jacqueline, et al., editors. Time for Reparations: A Global Perspective, University of Pennsylvania Press, Sept. 2021, [link]

Bassett, Mary T., and Sandro Galea. “Reparations as a Public Health Priority — A Strategy for Ending Black–White Health Disparities.” New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 383, no. 22, 2020, pp. 2101–2103., doi:10.1056/nejmp2026170, [link]

Recent Events

December 10, 2021 – Time for Reparations: A Global Perspective

Racial Justice

Learn more about the FXB Center’s structural racism work here.