No economist has addressed the issue with the persistence and power that Duke University’s William Darity Jr. has. For nearly three decades, “Sandy” Darity has written papers and given presentations discussing the rationale and design of reparations policy. Next year, he will publish a book dedicated to the question, co-authored with his wife, Kirsten Mullen.
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Can philanthropy be a substitute for public policy? Popular culture experts Mark Anthony Neal and Natalie Bullock Brown take on that question with host Frank Stasio in the latest installment of #BackChannel, The State of Things’ recurring series connecting culture and context. They also discuss the new Netflix political documentary “Knock Down The House” which follows four progressive women who challenged incumbent Democrats in the 2018 election, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY).
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Alondra Nelson, a professor of sociology at Columbia University and president of the Social Science Research Council, talked with two prominent scholars who have addressed the issue: Darrick Hamilton, the executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University, and William A. Darity, the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.
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William A. Darity Jr., an economist at Duke University and a leading scholar on reparations, suggests two qualifying conditions: having at least one ancestor who was enslaved in the United States, and having identified oneself as African-American on a legal document for at least a decade before the approval of any reparations. The 10-year rule, he said, would help screen out anyone trying to cash in on a windfall.
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THE LONGER ONE TALKS TO DARITY, the more the sad irony of the situation becomes clear. The statistics he has helped uncover—for example, that white households in Boston have a median net worth of $247,500; for African Americans, that number is a mere eight dollars—are striking snapshots that at first seem like typos. “It’s disturbing,” Darity says, “but before examining this work or this data, I would not have expected the gaps to be this large.”
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As an undergraduate at Brown, though, in his initial economics classes, he witnessed “the way in which economists would explain, say, inequality across individuals or across social groups as attributable to something they call ‘human capital differences,’ ” Darity says, outlining the theory that states, roughly, that poor people are poorer because of deficits in intelligence, skill, education, or something similar. “And that did not resonate with my sense of how the world works.”
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At Duke he has taken his interest in performing arts and creative industries and has pursued classes that further expand on those areas. With his face brimming in excitement, he begins to list off his favorite classes at the Durham institution.
“My favorite class was History of Hip-Hop, taught by [music producer] 9th Wonder and professor Mark Anthony Neal,” says the Spartanburg, SC native.
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“It means more to me that the culture is represented than that a I’m being recognized,” Douthit said. “It’s something that can be recognized in our state history. “Some of us can walk into museums and not relate to what’s there, but, now, if a kid who is making beats on his laptop walks into the N.C. Music Hall of Fame Museum and sees my picture, then he can say, ‘Maybe I can do that.’
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Mark Anthony Neal on the legacy of Nipsey Hussle:
He was an underground guy. He made his reputation basically on a mixtape he did in 2013 that he sold for $100 ... He had just released his first official major label release which earned him a Grammy award. What folks loved about Nipsey was the fact that he was someone not famous famous ... but someone who clearly has some name recognition and has the ability to leave the hood, if you will, but chose to maintain the roots that he had built in his community… read more about Remembering John Singleton and Nipsey Hussle, Plus the Style and Swag of Lizzo and Beyoncé »
The Allen Building Takeover did not bring about an immediate solution to all the grievances brought forward by students in the Afro-American Society. However, meaningful change would eventually come and the protest would inspire change and leave a lasting legacy for all students at Duke.
One of the central demands of the students involved in the Allen Building Takeover was getting Duke to create an accredited department for African American Studies. That department was created and is now chaired by Mark Anthony Neal, Ph.D… read more about 1969: Duke Building Taken Over By Students Protesting Racial Inequality »
Guest: William Darity, Professor of Public Policy, Duke University
Several of the Democratic party’s top presidential hopefuls have said they support –or are at least open to –the US government making some sort of reparations to African Americans impacted by slavery. That could mean cash payments to descendants of slaves. Or it could mean specific housing, healthcare, scholarship or loan programs for black Americans. Reparations have been discussed periodically since slavery was abolished more than 150 years ago, but it’s… read more about Reparations For Slavery Becomes 2020 Campaign Issue »
“For Black audiences, particularly for Black youth, it’s a reminder of the legacy of these institutions and that particularly in this moment – this kind of Trump’s America – that these are still vibrant institutions that still have a mission to educate Black folks,” said Dr. Mark Anthony Neal, chair of the Department of African & African American Studies and the founding director of the Center for Arts, Digital Culture and Entrepreneurship at Duke University. “It’s a great celebration of HBCUs, particularly from someone… read more about Beyoncé's 'Homecoming' Brings HBCU Culture to the Forefront »
The household wealth gap has a profound impact on the financial stability of black families, said William Darity, an economics professor at Duke University who studies economic inequality. It makes it harder for black families to weather recessions and personal setbacks, pass along real estate and other assets that can give subsequent generations a head start, and take the risks that might result in higher earnings, such as moving for a job or starting a business.
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The forum, “Inequalities and the Erosion of Social Cohesion in Post-Apartheid South Africa,” featured presentations by Hiroyuki Hino, a visiting research scholar at the event host, the Duke University Center for International and Global Studies (DUCIGS), and economics professor Murray Leibbrandt (University of Cape Town).
Charles Piot, a Duke professor of cultural anthropology and African and African American Studies, and Ada Umenwaliri, associate director of African Studies Center at the University of North Carolina at… read more about Scholars Say Inequality Remains in Post-Apartheid South Africa »
The plan to address those differences by giving newborns a nest egg was first developed by professors William A. Darity, of Duke University, and Darrick Hamilton, of the New School.
“Its real intent is to provide every young person with an asset that could enable them to actually build or accumulate wealth over the course of their adult lifetime,” Darity said in an interview. “It would not bring about the equalization of wealth but it certainly would improve [on] the degree of inequality that we’re experiencing now.”
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William Darity Jr is a professor of public policy at Duke University, and is one of the leading scholars on reparations in America.
"I am refreshingly surprised that the reparations conversation has become so rich and expansive in the public arena recently," he says. "To see multiple presidential candidates talking openly about the issue means the conversation we are having is unlike any we have had on the topic before in the United States of America."
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William Darity Jr., a professor of public policy at Duke University and one of the leading scholars on the economics of reparations, said he was “admiring” of the student efforts, while also pushing them to lay the groundwork for a nationwide effort that avoids “piecemeal” solutions. “We do need to move away from viewing this as a matter of individual guilt or individual responsibility that can be offset by individual payments, towards the recognition that this is a national responsibility and a national obligation that… read more about This Could Be The First Slavery Reparations Policy in America »
If there were such a thing as an academic rock star, Duke University’s Mark Anthony Neal would be one. Neal is a professor, hip-hop scholar, and author, who is a highly-sought after cultural critic. News outlets like the Huffington Postand WUNC regularly tap Neal, Chair of Duke’s African and African American Studies and founder of the Center for Arts, Digital Culture and Entrepreneurship, for cultural commentary – as do we.
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Duke University professor William “Sandy” Darity and his onetime student Darrick Hamilton, currently serving as director of Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, have proposed an interim step dubbed “baby bonds.” The bonds, averaging $25,000 but rising to as much as $60,000 for the poorest children, would be federally managed to increase by a guaranteed annual rate of 2 percent. The cost of up to $100 billion would be less than 3 percent of the U.S. budget. As they explain to… read more about 'Baby Bonds' Could Help the U.S. Wealth Gap »
What he loves about Duke: As a professor in several departments, DeFrantz values Duke’s interdisciplinary approach to teaching and collaboration. ... “Duke is pushing the arts to an interdisciplinary focus,” DeFrantz said. “I can work in engineering and humanities and arts. It’s very appealing to work in several directions at the same time.”
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In an interview, Darity acknowledged that almost none of these programs realistically constituted the sort of reparations his research has advocated, but suggested even the fact the debate existed at all should be seen as a positive advance.
“Suddenly the term reparations is not verboten in the public square,” Darity said. “So that to me is a very significant change. I think that now there is a certain type of gravitas or credibility that it has, which leads the conversation to be a serious one, and I think that’s… read more about Reparations: Democrats Renew Debate Over How To Heal the Legacy of Slavery »