[Ed. – Sadly for him, he’s not joking.]
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ essay on “The Case for Reparations” is much more a call for a moral reckoning with the legacy of white supremacy in America than it is a detailed accounting of what a reparations policy would look like. The more wonkishly inclined might prefer a specific proposal, so here’s a place to start: we could close the wealth gap between black households and white households by directing the Federal Reserve to print $55 billion a month for 25 months and divide the proceeds evenly among every African-American.
Attempting to reckon with vast historical crimes played out over multiple centuries is hard. It’s better to start at the end — with a desirable outcome. What would it take to close the gap in wealth between black and white households?
Unfortunately for the cause of precision, in the United States wealth is measured at the household level while race is a property of individuals. But roughly speaking, the average American household has 2.55 people so closing the $85,000 household wealth gap would require a transfer of approximately $33,300 to each African American individual. There are about 41.4 million black people in America, so we’re talking about approximately $1.38 trillion.