The inequality embedded with modern American society – complicated through capitalism’s production of inequity – remains a central aspect of the redress movements. Reparations activists rightly critique how structural disadvantages such as lack of political representation, barriers to education, and higher rates of incarceration are the result of ongoing White supremacist aspects of American society.
In Rosewood and Black communities across the nation, overt bigotry gave way as social institutions found ways of limiting minority advancement (e.g., redlining). Indeed, it even became possible for well-meaning Whites to unwittingly participate in these institutions. As many Whites shedded their racist attitudes towards minorities, social pressures and institutional inertia resulted in a society described by sociologist Bonilla-Silva as racism without racists. For many, it became more difficult to understand how racism persisted because it no longer involved interpersonal violence, at least between citizens. Interpersonal violence continued for African American communities through higher rates of police brutality and incarceration. Today, the economic and political gap between many White and Black communities is further evidence of this transformation.
While many acknowledge that current racial inequalities for African Americans derive from slavery, increasing numbers are fighting for Jim Crow reparations. This position developed because arguments for slavery reparations remain difficult to justify in public discourse, and successful cases for Jim Crow redress are growing. Rosewood is one such case, and the architects of the 1994 Rosewood Compensation Bill framed it as a personal claims suit against the state, distancing themselves from the terminology of reparations. This bill paid varying sums to survivors and descendants in addition to setting up a college scholarship. This bill remains one of the few successful examples of redress in the US. It joins larger decisions like the 1980 Supreme Court order to pay $122 million to Sioux tribes for an 1877 treaty violation and the 1988 $1.25 billion compensation to Japanese Americans for unlawful internment during World War II.
At present, activists are urging the federal government to develop a redress commission to investigate the legacy of structural inequality in America. A variety of tactics are being explored and recently the need to educate the US public about redress is motivating groups like the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) and Coming to the Table’s Reparations Working Group continue to advocate for education on this important topic.