President Barack Obama said in an interview published Wednesday that reparations payments for black Americans could be a good idea but simply aren’t politically feasible.
Speaking with The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates, Obama said that it’s easy to make an argument for reparations for black Americans because of past sins like slavery and Jim Crow laws.
“Theoretically, you can make, obviously, a powerful argument that centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination are the primary cause for all those gaps [between white and black people],” Obama said in the interview. “That those were wrongs done to the black community as a whole, and black families specifically, and that in order to close that gap, a society has a moral obligation to make a large, aggressive investment, even if it’s not in the form of individual reparations checks, but in the form of a Marshall Plan, in order to close those gaps.”
Obama didn’t endorse reparations, but he didn’t reject them either. Other minorities in America, he said, would not find it fair to them.
“So the bottom line is that it’s hard to find a model in which you can practically administer and sustain political support for those kinds of efforts,” Obama explained.
The United Nations recently demanded America pay reparations to the black community.
A report released by the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on African Descent accused the U.S. of having a racist history. The country’s history of slavery and current police shootings, the report argued, meant that America owes the black community reparations.
Meanwhile, Coates is also a high-profile advocate of black reparations, though he has avoided the specifics of what form those reparations should take.