• Ben Silvian

Affirmative Sample Case: Reparations

Updated: Aug 10

Affirmative Case (660)


We Affirm: Resolved: The United Stated Federal Government Ought to Pay Reparations to African Americans.

We observe that this debate is about justice: This is the single most important concept in today’s debate. The Random House English Dictionary defines “ought” as “used to express justice”. Indeed, the pursuit of justice is the purpose of our government, as James Madison wrote in his 1788 essay Federalist 51 “Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it be obtained”

If reparations are required by justice, you ought to vote pro.


Our First and Only Contention is The Injustice of Segregation


In 1934, the United States Federal Government created the Federal Housing Authority, or FHA, an institution designed to help Americans purchase homes by providing insured loans. Kaplan of Oregon State University explains in 2007 that the cornerstone of the FHA’s system was to label predominantly Black neighborhoods as “uninsurable” and to refuse to insure the loans of African Americans seeking to buy houses, which relegated African Americans to communities with low property values and few economic opportunities. The result, as Kaplan explains was the establishment of racially segregated communities.


The legacy of segregation is still alive: Alana Semuels writes in 2015 that racial segregation is frighteningly prominent in the status quo.


Elizabeth Anderson of the University of Michigan explains in 2011 that segregation is the pinnacle of modern discrimination. The racial isolation fostered by segregation not only cuts African American citizens off from job opportunities, healthcare facilities, and decent public schools, it also feeds into the vicious cycle of racism by separating the races and limiting interaction.


Prominent Civil Rights Activist Benjamin E. Mays may have put it best in his autobiography “Born to Rebel,” published in 2011, when he explained that: “Inherent in segregation is injustice”


It is a basic principle of justice that the perpetrator of an injustice must be held accountable, acknowledge their guilt and take all possible measures to correct that injustice. Reparations do just that, and are thus an imperative. This is why Thomas Mccarthy of Northwestern University writes in 2004 that reparations are essential to the establishment of justice in american society.


But Reparations are not just symbolic, the International Center for Transitional Justice explains in 2015 that reparations can be future-oriented and focused on providing a better life for the victims of injustice by remedying the lasting effects of that injustice. Reparative programs would thus include not only an acknowledgement of the injustice of segregation, but also meaningful policy changes, such as the implementation of inclusionary zoning, or mandatory set-aside programs, that Marc Seitles of Nova Southeastern University finds in 1998 are able to effectively integrate communities.


The integration of communities through reparative programs is beneficial for two reasons.


First, addressing the root cause of american racism. As Steve Connor of the Independent writes in 2014, integration breaks down subconscious misperceptions of race because integration fosters interaction between the races. The integration process thus increases overall racial tolerance. Reparations make America less racist in the long run.


Second, Energizing the Electorate. Elizabeth Ananat of Duke University, who compares the results of local, state, and federal elections in segregated and integrated communities over a 30-year time period in a 2007 study finds that citizens of all ethnicities in integrated communities are significantly more likely to support policies that aid African Americans. Integration fosters understanding and empathy, leading to a long-term increase in the passage of progressive reform policies.


Race-Neutral reform isn’t enough. Anderson emphasizes that color-blind anti-poverty programs will categorically fail to achieve the goal of full racial justice because they do not confront the reality that racial segregation is the root of issues facing the African American community. Race neutral policies have gotten us this far, but we need reparations to take us the rest of the way.


Because reparations both integrate and restore justice, we urge a pro ballot.