Join in person, in the Urban Studies office
McNeil Building 4th floor
3718 Locust Walk

Or via Zoom! https://upenn.zoom.us/j/97281351524

Speaker: Ezekiel Vergara, PhD Student, Philosophy

Discussant: Tabitha Mustafa, PhD Student, Business Ethics and Legal Studies Department


The United States continues to have a complicated relationship with race. As Ta-Nehisi Coates writes, the United States had “Two-hundred fifty years of slavery,” which was followed by “Ninety years of Jim Crow [laws]” that subordinated Black Americans. These historical injustices have prompted calls that monetary reparations ought to be paid to the descendants of Black Americans. However, many disapprove of reparations, given its redistributive, perhaps even communist, nature. The belief that communism would result from reparations, or is somehow linked to reparations, helps explain some of the hesitance surrounding reparations.

This disapproval of reparations, stemming from an opposition to communist redistribution, assumes that communists would support reparations. This assumption, though, is too hasty. Namely, it remains an open question as to whether a communist, like Karl Marx, would support reparations. In this paper, I hope to answer the following question: Ought a communist, like Karl Marx, support monetary reparations for Black Americans?

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Speaker Ezekiel Vergara is a first-year Ph.D. student. He did his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College, where he studied both Philosophy and Government. He wrote his senior honors thesis on the ethics of violent political revolutions. Prior to starting his Ph.D., Ezekiel worked at the Yale Program on Financial Stability. At Yale, he studied government responses to financial crises, including changes to deposit-insurance systems, market-support programs, and liquidity reserve requirements.

Discussant Tabitha Mustafa is a doctoral student in Business Ethics & Legal Studies. Their research utilizes business, law, and philosophy as tools to explore and increase social equity and justice. Tabitha’s recent academic awards include the George James Doctoral Fellowship (2019) and William Fontaine Fellowship (2019; 2020). Prior to attending Wharton, Tabitha was an organizer, researcher, and consultant. They hold a BA from Tulane University, summa cum laude.