As the reparation debate continues, we now take a look at the opposition. Columnist Coleman Hughes gave a speech disputing the need for reparations, which has some wondering if his Puerto Rican heritage gives him any say.

While many have dissected the pro-reparation speeches as either passionate or ill-intentioned, Hughes’ take needs just as much criticism. At the congressional hearing, Hughes, a columnist for Quillette expressed that reparations are an insult rather than retribution for black Americans.

Hughes spoke of a national need to redirect our focus on present-day astorcities such as the increasing incarceration and murder rate of blacks, rather than attempting to amend the past.

Telling the court: “Black people don’t need another apology. We need safer neighborhoods and better schools. We need a less punitive criminal justice system. We need affordable healthcare. And none of these things can be achieved through reparations for slavery.” 

What has been a top concern of the reparations debate, are the individuals chosen to speak on behalf of both sides. The choices of actor Danny Glover and Sen. Cory Booker have come under fire, and now Hughes joins them. Tariq Nasheed took to his Twitter to reveal Hughes’ heritage as Puerto Rican— his real name being Coleman Cruz Hughes.

As news of Hughes’ Puerto Rican lineage was uncovered online, it can be debated that this racial discovery does not completely eliminate his African roots. As known of history, slavery was an international trade with ports along the Transatlantic. What were once Indigenious islands that had been over taken over Spanish colonies, became subject to enslavement and racial mixing from African arrivals.

Is one’s percentage of “blackness” the determining factor as to who has the right to speak on the topic of reparations? These hearings are meant to be defended by those who best represent the black American perspective. Some would say Hughes is just as quintessential. However who the “some” are, is equally as questionable.


Regardless if you take the side of anti-reparations Hughes or pro-reparations Coates, it is clear that this debate will not conclude anytime soon. Let us just hope it does not take another 150 years.