The Instigator
Con (against)
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The Contender
Pro (for)
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The United States Federal Government ought to pay reparations to African Americans.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/29/2015 Category: Economics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,127 times Debate No: 80327
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
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It is difficult to deny the effects of past policies on African Americans today. However, the Affirmative"s call for monetary reparations will do little to resolve these problems and leaves all the underlying justifications in place. Therefore, I strongly negate the resolution and stand resolved, The United States Federal Government ought NOT to pay reparations to African Americans.

Reparations " monetary awards to people who have personally, or whose ancestors have been wronged or targeted. They are awarded as compensation for previous wrongs done to a population.

Justification 1: There is no statistical evidence exist for harms left over from slavery or who would get reparations
David Horowitz, founder of The David Horowitz Freedom Center, January 03, 2001, "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Blacks is a Bad Idea for Blacks - and Racist Too," Front Page M"""""agazine,, Accessed 7/5/2014
Quote, "No evidence-based attempt has been made to prove that living individuals have been adversely affected by a slave system that was ended over 150 years ago. But there is plenty of evidence the hardships that occurred were hardships that individuals could and did overcome."
MPK: All hardships left over from slavery CAN and WERE overcome. There is no evidence that proves that any African Americans have been greatly affected by a slave system that was demolished over 150 years ago.

Justification 2: There"s no way to determine victims and most Americans weren"t here during slavery
Walter E. Williams, Ph.D., John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University, June 18, 2014, "Slavery Reparations," Townhall,, Accessed 7/13/2014
Quote, "There"s another moral or fairness issue. Most of today"s Americans don"t even go back three or four generations as American citizens. During slavery, some free blacks purchased other blacks as a means to free family members. But other blacks owned slaves for the same reason whites owned slaves " to work farms or plantations. Are descendants of these slaveholding blacks eligible for and deserving of reparations?"

MPK: Some African Americans had purchased other African Americans to do the same thing Americans had done, to work farms and plantations. How can we tell if an African American deserves reparation?

Justification 3: No criteria exist to determine who pays and who should receive reparations
Tom Condon, Staff Writer, March 28, 2002, "Reparations For Slavery A Bad Idea," The Courant,, Accessed 7/12/2014
Quote, "More than 2 million Americans fought for the Union, and almost 360,000 died, to end slavery. It somehow seems unfair to dun their descendants over the very object of their sacrifice. And what of the Americans who"ve come to this country after slavery? How would a person qualify for help from the fund? What percentage of one"s ancestry would have to be African American? Would millionaire African Americans such as Michael or Oprah qualify? How about African Americans who immigrated after slavery was ended?"
MPK: There are too many questions on who should pay and who should receive reparations. This makes it too chaotic to see who and who doesn"t get reparations.

Justification 4: Reparations for African Americans will be followed by a new wave of racism
Reparations for African Americans would generate strong backlash, and increased racism by those opposing reparations. Moreover, the government may feel less obligated to protect African Americans from discrimination because it has theoretically paid its dues. This causes greater tension with African Americans and could make things worse.

Justification 5: Direct cash payment fail " welfare proves
Just giving people money seldom helps to fix their problem. That"s why America"s "war on poverty" has been an utter and complete failure. After doling out more than 21 trillion dollars over the last 50 years, we"ve done nothing to reduce the poverty rate. Shortly after the War on Poverty got rolling, about 27% of Americans lived in poverty. In 2012, the last year for which data is available, the number was about 29%. In fact, it"s entirely possible that the poverty rate would be LOWER today if there had never be a "war on poverty." You can see this same dynamic with aid to Africa. After handing out more than a trillion dollars, much of the continent has gone BACKWARDS over the last 10-15 years.

Reparations are unnecessary and could and will make things worse for African Americans. Not only does money seldom help fix problems, they could also receive more backlash from those opposing reparations, WITHOUT the government"s help. Reparations are racist, and will cause more racism. Please vote Con because reparations will not help, only make things worse. Please vote Con.


We the pro affirm the resolution: Resolved: The United States Federal Government ought to pay reparations to African Americans.

Framework: The ICTJ explains that "Reparations initiatives can be designed in many ways. They may include financial compensation to individuals or groups; guarantees of non-repetition; social services such as healthcare or education; and symbolic measures such as formal apologies or public commemorations

Also note that ought denotes a MORAL obligation to act. If we were to advocate for monetary programs, or if con were to argue against monetary programs, that would be breaking the rules laid out regarding plans by the NSDA in Public Forum debate.

This means that reparations do not necessarily come with a price tag or place a burden on the American Government. Therefore, we argue that as long as we prove that there are obvious hardships placed on African-Americans, and it is in the Federal Government"s best moral interest to recognize those issues, that should be enough for us to win the round.



The Washington Post argues that "The biggest stunner of the Academy Award nominations [is that] not a single actor of color or female director was included, sparking immediate criticism about Hollywood"s failure to include minorities in its most elite ranks." And the Washington Post is 100% correct. Despite the fact that the movie Selma holds a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes it was DENIED any nods for best director nor best actors. IN CONTRAST, "The Grand Budapest Hotel", a movie that literally nobody saw, was given an array of nominations. The same can be said for Birdman, which despite much confusion, actually IS NOT a Marvel movie. This is not surprising. An L.A. Times analysis in 2013 found that the overall academy was 93 percent white and 76 percent male. This all aligns with theories on Racial Empathy Gaps. A recent study by Sophie Trawalter found asked participants to rate how much pain they would feel in 18 common scenarios. The participants rated experiences such as stubbing a toe or getting shampoo in their eyes on a four-point scale.Then they rated how another person would feel in the same situations. Sometimes the target was white, sometimes black. In each experiment, the researchers found that white participants, black participants, and nurses and nursing students assumed that blacks felt less pain than whites.This highlights the fact that society in general lacks the ability to face racial issues on their own, therefore the responsibility defaults to the government to support equality.


THE ABOVE POINT IS ALSO HIGHLIGHTED IN NICKI MINAJ"S RECENT FIGHT WITH TAYLOR SWIFT. Todd VanDerWerff of Vox explains, "Minaj"s video for "Anaconda," a riotous, gleeful celebration (and satirization) of female sexuality, was by far one of the biggest videos of the year. " Even so, when it was not nominated for a VMA award and Minaj went to twitter to justly complain, Taylor Swift had to make the issue about her, and assumed that Nicki Minaj was "subtweeting her". This then aligns with a recent TUFTS (go jumbos!) study that shows the average white person believes they experience more racism than the average black person, or in other words the average white person is deluded on race issues. Therefore, the USFG must repair the issue.

Contention 2: BEYONCE
In a recent report by USA TODAY Michelle Obama admitted that If given the opportunity to have a different occupation, she would be Beyonc". Like every literal human being on the face of the world, we would all love to be Beyonce. HOWEVER, despite being the best human being on the planet, Beyonce does not have the highest net worth. Hollywood Life reports that Taylor Swift, 24, and Calvin Harris, 31, have just earned the #1 spot on Forbes Celebrity 100 list, top the 2015 list with a whopping $146 million yearly income! The dethroned couple, Beyonc", 33, and Jay Z, 45, came in second place this year this earnings of $110.5 million. IN ONE WORD, THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. To rectify this tragedy, reparations must be paid. It makes no logical sense for the most loved person on earth not to be the wealthiest, and the only logical reason Is because of barriers to entry that exist in America for those of darker skin. For that reason, you must affirm the resolution. The US Government has already affirmed their support for Beyonce throughout the years both by letting her and her husband visit CUBA, and by letting Beyonce perform at the president"s inauguration.

Because the government has a moral obligation to support Beyonce and Nicki Minaj, we can only see a pro ballot. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 1


For the introduction, I would like to point out that in the resolution, it states that The United States Federal Government ought to PAY reparations, not just "recognize those issues" as my opponent stated. Also, my opponent stated that if we argued against monetary programs, it would break the rules of the PF debate. However, the CON is trying to argue that The United States Federal Government ought NOT pay reparations to African Americans, which includes monetary programs. Having said that, let's move on to our opponent's case.

In Contention 1, my opponent stated ONE example of how awards have not been given to any colored actor or director. However, their are plenty of other actors that have gotten noticed with an Oscar award, such as Hattie McDaniel, Sidney Poitier, Louis Gossett, Jr., and others. as listed here:

In subpoint B of contention 1, my opponent stated that the average white person believes they experience more racism than the average black person. But this is only one example, and is only noticed because Taylor Swift is popular. If my opponent had given some statistics, say, the percentage of whites who think they receive more racism that blacks, then their argument would stand, but as of now, there is little to no proof supporting their claim.

In Contention 2, my opponent said that Beyonce was the best human being on the planet. However, this is an opinion, not a fact. And Beyonce has nothing to do with our debate. Saying that Beyonce "only" gets $110.5 million shows that it is possible for African Americans to become multi millionaires. This also is biased, as I could point out many other American artists who's net worth income is less than Beyonce's.

In conclusion, my opponent no longer has any arguments standing. Please vote for CON. I look forward to the upcoming arguments.


Observation 1. Advocating for a plan or for a counterplan (the counterplan being saying that we should NOT pay monetary reparations, or that we must have a legitimate framework in place to give reparations) is BANNED in NSDA [1]. This means that having one of these things in a round would advocate for something that isn't allowed within the scope of the debate, ultimately being voided.
Observation 2. Even if counterplans were allowed, then ought within the resolution implies that we have a moral obligation to act; exact measures (such as who gets what) are not part of this debate. Moti Mozrahi explains this in his academic paper, "'Ought' Does Not Imply Can" [2]. This means that even if the con could argue against specific things ("we shouldn't pay African Americans because we can't do it!"), it would ultimately be banned because ought denoted a MORAL obligation to act, not encompassing feasibility.

Framework: The team that should win is the team that shows that the USFG has a moral obligation to provide, or not to provide, reparations should win. Again, feasibility is banned.

Justification 1.
To say that there exists no statistical proof that slavery has had an affect on today is a complete misrepresentation of all of the facts of modern society and culture. The places in which slavery thrived, are the places where people (mostly blacks) face the least amount of economic mobility in the nation, as the Boston Globe points out. They found that a person in the deep south has less than a 5% chance of moving up to the top "quintile" (as they call it) if they start at the bottom quintile - a direct remnant of both slavery and, later, Jim Crow laws [3].
What my opponent is suggesting is that slavery has no modern impact, although there is virtually no economic mobility for those that were directly impacted by slavery; either this is a completely huge coincidence, or the remnants of slavery are still here (Occam's Raisor leads us to believe the later). In any case, my opponent is advocating for denial of slavery's impact on today, and saying that it didn't matter in the end; this round should be for civil discourse, not the denunciation of an entire's people history in this nation, up to and including the present. I hope the judges acknowledge this refusal to see that people are not living dream lives, as my opponent advocates.

Justification 2.
My opponent is arguing from a shelter of feasability- he is arguing that we don't know who is eligible for reparations. As concluded by my observations, anything that is an advocacy (pro or con) that relies on feasability, or something that requires the defining of ought to have feasability within its bounds, is not a valid argument. Thus, the pro does not see these arguments as valid in this debate round, but we do not concede them; they are simply not allowed within the round and the tabula rasa judge ought (has a moral obligation) to discard these.

Justification 3.
Same response as justification 2. Ought does not imply can. We do not concede this point, we acknowledge that it is not valid in this debate.

Justification 4.
What exactly could be worse than having the government deny that you had suffered for hundreds of years, all to the deaf ear of the USFG, who I might add only decided to pay any forms of reparations that the ICTJ recognises (apologising) in 2009 [4]. Basically, you are saying that those who do are not in favor of reparations, would go as so far to start having internal reservations against an entire group of people, without any warrants or reasons why?
What I would argue is that people would start to realise that what happened is actually a pretty terrible thing; they would feel pity for the descendants of those that had to face the horrors that truly are slavery. They will not decide to go and kill black people because they get reparations (apologising, etc. NOT monetary reparations specifically), that's nearly as absurd as claiming that people will actually hold moral reservations against reparations.

Justification 5.
Again, refer to justification 2.

Impact analysis.
My opponent has two actually legitimate arguments against reparations, and neither of them really deal with a moral reservation: there would be racial tensions, and that there is no proof of any harms left over from slavery (this last one is an argument from defense and should not be admitted into the tabula rasa judge's decision. Basically, there would be some AA's that could get hurt because of tensions, and ???.
My impacts are that there is no way for any recognition of AA's in current society due to past and current racism, and that there are wages being "garnished" (in a sense) from Beyonce to pay to other performers, simply because they are of a different race than her.

The impact that was provided by con is completely unfounded in fact or reasoning, as I pointed out. The impacts of there being no recognition for anyone and due to HUGE "garnished" wages, far outweigh something that doesn't and cannot exist. The USFG has a moral obligation via utalitarianism to benefit the most amount of people (by happiness), and restoring garnished wages and allowing recognition fulfills this moral obligation. There is not a moral obligation of the USFG to prevent tensions that wouldn't even occur; there might be a feasibility argument (no possibility of racial tensions increases productivity), but once again, this is a debate within the scopes of moral obligations.

Debate Round No. 2


As a road map for the voters, I will first rebuild my case, and then attack my opponent's case.

Justification 1:
I will refer to one of my opponent's example, Beyonce. She was actually born in Houston TX, and now is a multi millionaire. The argument that my opponent has made against my case was not only proven wrong, but this piece of information goes against their evidence, who state that there is a slim chance that someone from the south has less that 5% chance. Second, my opponent states that a PERSON, not an African American, has less that 5% of reaching the top "quintile." I would also like my opponent to define "top quintile", because defining it as being on Beyonce's or Lebron James' level applies to everyone.

Justification 2:
My argument is completely valid. In Public Forum Debate, a plan or counterplan is defined by the NFL as a formalized, comprehensive proposal for implementation. The Pro team must focus on the resolution, ans not on a plan. Likewise, the Con must negate the Pro: not propose an alternative. This rule is meant to keep Public Forum ideologically seperate from policy, which the debate was sprung as a reaction from. I am not proposing any alternative, just stating the fact that the United States Federal Government ought NOT pay reparations because it would be too confusing to figure out who would and who would pay reparations, making my argument valid. This Justification still stands.

Justification 3:
Read counter-argument for Justification 2

Justification 4:
My opponent has no proof that the people will realize what will happen is terrible. On the other hand, one of many examples of people going as far as killing people is the proposal of gay marriage. Many people who did not approve of gay marriage went as far as killing these gays and causing riots, therefore making this justification still valid.

Justification 5:
Once again, stating that giving money away did not help our country before does not offer an alternative. It just gives another reason why the United States Federal Government ought NOT pay reparations. Therefore all of my justifications still stand, because my opponent did not research well on the rules of PF debate. For more information on the rule my opponent and I are discussing about, please go here:
and look for counter-plans in the rules.

I will now address my opponent's case. However, in Round 2, my opponent has not rebuilt their case AT ALL. In other words, not only have they failed to destroy my case, they have also neglected their own. Because my opponent no longer has a case, or any arguments, left to destroy, Con wins this debate round. Thank you.


Um, so, debate structure on this website is a little different than other places and in real life. First you give arguments, refute other arguments, defend against refutations, etc etc. Just because I didn't build on my case doesn't mean anything - I assume we were following the rules of this website and their basic structure. Not building on my case is not an auto-win for you - that's convention. Even if you were right, you broke the same rules that you are trying to impose on me, so it's moot.
In round 3, you refute round 2; round 4 refutes round 3; you refute the previous round.

Con starts off by saying that the USFG ought to PAY reparations, not just recognise issues. Is not paying respects to someone a form of the word pay, and you are recognising their life before you? That's how the word "pay" is being used here, and it's easy to see why: feasibility in a morality debate is a waste of time and does not hold up with logic. Therefore, I propose the judge uses the definition which meets the resolution's meaning.

A. Even if I did list only one example, it highlights the point that was underlying the entire contention: there are invisible barriers surrounding rae that do not allow for people to be recognised for their hard work. Now, my opponent says that black people get awards all the time - but is it not strange that the best movie of all time was not given any nods for awards, while the most boring and least seen was given many awards, the only real difference between the two being racial composition? How can we allow for black people in the US to excel if when they give the best performance of all time, they do not get recognition, solely based on their race?

B. I did give statistics about perception of race - I cited a study done that says that people perceive blacks to receive less pain. The point isn't that white people perceive more racism than black people, it's that this internal struggle for black people exists at such a level that the very reason they do not get an award is because of their race. The only linkage to Taylor Swift is that Taylor thought that she was being attacked because Minaj said that she didn't get an award because of her race - showing that white people, on balance, tend to feel insecure about their race because they actually know of the systemic oppression in place against black people.

It is a fact that Beyonce is the best human being on the planet - my warrant for this is that First Lady Michelle Obama says that she would be her. You have not dropped my evidence for this, essentially conceding it completely; for the purposes of this debate, Beyonce is the best person in the world because of the concession from con.
It is possible for AA's to become multimillionaires, for sure, but when the only thing that is keeping Beyonce from having hundreds of millions, or dare I say billions/trillions, of dollars is her race, we know that something is up, and that something isn't good. It's a systemic attack on black people by society, culture, and the government.

Overall, my claims said that we have an interest to fund those that cannot get a voice in modern culture, and to pay Beyonce what she rightly deserves. Morality is upheld with these claims, thus vote pro.

Debate Round No. 3


WarDraco101 forfeited this round.


Forfeiture means that my opponent drops all of my arguments at their full weight. They had no weight with their arguments as presented, thus I should win. Vote pro.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by brant.merrell 1 year ago
I'm just here for Beyonce
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