Video: Professors comment on MLK Day theme of ‘Reparations: Addressing Racial Injustices’

The longer you look at the sorry history of racial injustice in the U.S., the more there is to see — from the fundamental integration of racism into the machinery of government and business, to countless specific instances of theft, disenfranchisement, and murder going back centuries.

For its 2017 observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Bates College stands with the individuals and institutions shining a light on a possible route to atonement: reparations.


Associate Professor of Philosophy Susan Stark and Assistant Professor of Sociology Michael Rocque comment comment on this year’s theme, “Reparations: Addressing Racial Injustices.”

While the obstacles that confront advocates of reparations are numerous and high, it’s also true that even discussing the notion — as Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in “The Case for Reparations,” his invaluable article in the June 2014 Atlantic Magazine — affords a powerful lens for honestly examining race in America.

In a diversity of workshops and in the keynote address to be given by Khalil Gibran Muhammad, educator and author, Bates is pleased to start that examination on Jan. 16 as it dedicates its annual MLK Day programming to “Reparations: Addressing Racial Injustices.”

“As a college, as individuals, as a country, we really need…to get better at having conversations about slavery, and to open conversations about ongoing institutional racism and ongoing implicit biases that everyone has,” says Susan Stark, associate professor of philosophy and a co-chair of the MLK Day Committee.

That way, she says, “we can begin to repair the terrible harms of hundreds of years of injustice.”

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