U-M report on Detroiters’ opinions of reparations gains traction in media

April 18, 2023

The Center for Racial Justice, the Detroit Metro Area Communities Study, and Poverty Solutions released a new report detailing Detroiters’ opinions on reparations and racial inequity in March 2023. Since its release, multiple news outlets picked up the report, sharing its findings and gauging reactions from the community. 

"A primary motivation for the report is that there is this big debate right now about how we account for the past injustices that we see in this country...One of those options is a reparations policy, so we just wanted to sort of dig into what Detroiters feel about such a policy," Jasmine Simington, a doctoral student in Sociology and Public Policy, told the Detroit Free Press.

“There is a strong link between awareness of racial inequality and support for reparative policies,” Erykah Benson, a second-year sociology doctoral student and Population Studies Center trainee, added in the Michigan Advance. “We’re in a moment of national debate about how to think about, teach and resolve historical and contemporary injustices. How we collectively remember and understand our history shapes how we think about appropriate solutions for generational and ongoing injustices.” 

In a recent interview with CBS Detroit, Benson touched upon a key finding in the study. “63% of the [Detroit] city’s residents support reparations in the form of monetary payment. There’s a strong link with people’s awareness of racial inequality and support for reparations. When we asked Detroiters, ‘Do you feel that the historic impact of slavery and discrimination still impacts Black Americans today?’, we found that those who agree with the statement are more likely to support reparations.”

Both Simington and Benson worked on the report.

“COVID, George Floyd, inflation, all of these things, I think all of these crises, climate change... I think are shifting public perception about the role of government in both preventing and also, kind of, just easing the instability of everyday life,” Simington said to Michigan Radio.

“Opposition to reparations does not necessarily conflate or equate to opposition to addressing racial inequality as a policy priority,” Benson told the Detroit Free Press.

“In Detroit, segregation is still a very high rate. And so, when we think about people’s perceptions…perceptions being related to people’s social interaction, and that might inform how people perceive the level of income inequality in their own lives,” Benson told WDET.

The full brief can be seen here.

Read all of the articles and videos featuring the report: