Social workers’ attitudes toward reparations for African American descendants

V. Nikki Jones, Cathy G. McElderry, Laneshia R. Conner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Summary: Reparations for African Americans in its most basic form amounts to a concerted effort to repair damages from hundreds of years of exploitation and mistreatment toward people of African ancestry. The legacy of chattel slavery manifests in ongoing racial injustices, including gross disparities in health and wealth. The injustices resultant from the system of chattel slavery and its sequela have not been formally addressed by the U.S. government. As a profession, social work is dedicated to the empowerment of marginalized communities and upholds a mandate to advocate for social justice. As such, this study examines social workers’ attitudes toward reparations for African American descendants. Descriptive analyses and analyses of association were used to interpret survey data. Findings: A convenience sample of 186 social work professionals and students participated in this exploratory study. Findings of the study suggest that a majority of social workers agree with reparations (73%) as a strategy to redress present-day disparities. Additionally, a majority of the participants agree that reparations can begin to repair racial inequality. Applications: This groundbreaking study lays the foundation for future research about social workers’ perceptions and support of reparations. Furthermore, results of this study should encourage social work organizations to infuse scientific research in formulating position statements and advocacy on the issue of reparations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1031-1055
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Social Work
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the social workers who participated part in this study and the reviewers who provided feedback on this article. The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • Social work
  • advocacy
  • racism
  • reparations
  • social justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Social workers’ attitudes toward reparations for African American descendants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this