Reparations to Black Americans for slavery have been gaining traction in recent years. Kerry Whigham, co-director of the Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention at Binghamton University, State University of New York, believes that reparations are always about more than money. 

When reparations measures aren’t met with initiatives responding to the structural causes of violence, they can be perceived as “blood money,” as victims believe accepting the payment means giving up their right to justice, says Whigham.

"It may also cause victims to question their own right to redress. But when accompanied by efforts to seek justice and reform the institutions that violated victims’ rights, I argue, reparations can be a starting point for rebuilding trust and community."

The modern history of reparations is only a few decades old, but it already demonstrates that reparations are always about more than the money, says Whigham.

"If the process includes compensation, but ignores complementarity and consultation, the effort may fail to truly answer for the past. But when all three principles are central, reparations can mean far more than money in someone’s pocket. They can contribute to repairing the social fabric that has been torn apart by mass violence."