Race, Racism, and Reparations
If affirmative action and other ethnicity-based social programs are justified, then J. Angelo Corlett believes it is important to come to an adequate understanding of the nature of ethnicity in general and ethnic group membership in particular. In Race, Racism, and Reparations, Corlett reconceptualizes traditional ideas of race in terms of ethnicity. As he makes clear, the answers to the questions "What is a Native American"? or "What is a Latino/a"? have important implications for public policy, especially for those programs designed to address historic injustices and economic and social imbalances among different groups in our society.
Having supplanted "race" with a well-defined concept of ethnicity, the author then analyzes the nature and function of racism. Corlett argues for a notion of racism that must encompass not only racist beliefs but also racist actions, omissions, and attempted actions. His aim is to craft a definition of racism that will prove useful in legal and public policy contexts.
Corlett places special emphasis on the broad questions of whether reparations for ethnic groups are desirable and what forms those reparations should take: land, money, social programs? He addresses the need for differential affirmative action programs and reparations policies—the experiences (and oppressors) of different ethnic groups vary greatly. Arguments for reparations to Native and African Americans are considered in light of a variety of objections that are or might be raised against them. Corlett articulates and critically analyzes a number of possible proposals for reparations.