By Brentin Mock

July 12, 2023

Over the weekend, a judge dismissed a lawsuit that sought reparations from the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the 1921 Tulsa race massacre and the destruction of the historic Black Greenwood neighborhood. Local civil rights advocates decried the decision as a loss for racial justice, while lawyers for the race massacre survivors promised an appeal.

But for some Black history scholars, calling such efforts reparations is a “detour” from true compensation to Black Americans.

“Local reparations are an impossibility, a virtual oxymoron,” write Duke University professor William A. Darity Jr. and arts consultant A. Kirsten Mullen in their new book The Black Reparations Project: A Handbook for Racial Justice.