Reparations in Asian American Contexts: When "Sorry" Isn’t Enough

A Religion, Culture, and Politics Workshop

January 25, 2019
12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Location: New North Room 107 (Theology Department Conference Room) Map

How should corporate bodies attempt to right, or at least remedy, past wrongs? Is it appropriate for victims of group-based harms to press current generations to “atone” for the “sins” of their predecessors? Four specific cases provide context for this discussion: three where discrete Asian American groups (i.e., Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, Filipino Americans) received some form of reparations from the U.S. government and one where Asian Americans provided reparations to another people group (native Hawaiians) for their complicity in their unjust suffering at the hands of the federal government.

At this Religion, Culture, and Politics Workshop, Dr. Grace Yia-Hei Kao, professor of ethics at Claremont School of Theology, constructed an Asian American theo-ethics of reparations with a non-exhaustive list of five principles by drawing upon the work of selected Asian American theologians and critical race theorists, the emerging international human rights standards for reparations, and classical and Reformed theological commitments and ecclesial practices. The norms she defended emerge from reflection on these Asian American case studies, but are not intended to be applied solely to them as principle #5 is for Asian Americans to forge solidarity with other groups seeking redress for historic injustices of their own.

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