Chattel slavery was the foundation for capitalism in America, and the extreme impact it has had on economic development of the nation has made American capitalism into a system uniquely cruel to its working class. This uniquely American preference of profit over worker security began with the seemingly endless profit from slavery, and can still be identified in worker exploitation today. A close reading of Matthew Desmond’s “In order to understand the brutality of American capitalism, you have to start on the plantation” brings forth the realization that an oppressive capitalist system continues to work against black Americans. From the Reconstruction period until today, structural inequality permeates the lives of African Americans; housing discrimination, unfair lending practices, and social discrimination culminate in the perpetual subjugations of black citizens under American capitalism. Based on this, I will argue that to achieve any lasting solution to such inequities, optimal reparations must attack structural injustice, and (perhaps most importantly) work outside of American capitalism itself.


Sponsored by Maria Lima