Tragedy & Remedy: Black Reparations for Racial Disparities in Health


This Article makes unique and powerful contributions to Black reparations, health care law, biomedical and social science research into racial disparities in health, and critical race theory.

The starting point is the tragedy of Black health in America, with dramatically higher death rates and shorter life expectancies. Current research is ill-equipped to consider the deeper historical roots of Black health disparities; while the development of racially-specific therapies (such as the FDA’s approval in July 2005 of BiDil, a heart drug for Blacks) actually contributes to racial profiling in medicine. Biomedical research has a race problem.

The Black reparations movement suffers from a law problem: every broad claim for Black reparations is dismissal from federal court without reaching the merits. The landmark African-American Slave Descendants Litigation suffered the fate of all other similar suits when Judge Norgle granted the defendants’ motions to dismiss on July 6, 2005.

This Article uses Black reparations to resolve the race problem in health disparities research; and deploys health disparities to craft a Black reparations suit which could survive summary judgment. It also responds to Richard Delgado’s call for critical race scholarship which moves beyond discourse and actually results in structural changes in society.


Health Law and Policy

Date of this Version

July 2005