"Demanding reparations is not just about compensation for slavery and segregation. It is, more important, an educational campaign to highlight the contemporary reality of racial deficits of all kinds, the unequal conditions that impact blacks regardless of class. Structural racism’s barriers include equity inequity, the absence of black capital formation that is a direct consequence of America’s history. One third of all black households actually have negative net wealth. In 1998 the typical black family’s net wealth was $16,400, less than one fifth that of white families. Black families are denied home loans at twice the rate of whites.
Blacks remain the last hired and first fired during recessions. During the 1990-91 recession, African-Americans suffered disproportionately. At Coca-Cola, 42 percent of employees who lost their jobs were black. At Sears, 54 percent were black. Blacks have significantly shorter life expectancies, in part due to racism in the health establishment. Blacks are statistically less likely than whites to be referred for kidney transplants or early-stage cancer surgery.
In criminal justice, African-Americans constitute only one seventh of all drug users. Yet we account for 35 percent of all drug arrests, 55 percent of drug convictions and 75 percent of prison admissions for drug offenses.
White Americans today aren’t guilty of carrying out slavery and segregation. But whites have a moral and political responsibility to acknowledge the continuing burden of history’s structural racism."