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ENGWR 302 (Spangler)

ENGWR 302 (Spangler)


Final Essay

The Case for Restitution, Reparations and/or Restoration

Welcome to our final writing assignment of the semester, a researched argument!

Task:  You will write an argumentative essay, supported by your own research, in which you analyze a group that has been victimized and argue whether or not they have received adequate reparations or restitution for the damage they experienced.

Now, more in depth: Choose an identified group (sample topics listed at end of this page) that has been victimized by a more powerful entity. Your choice of a group should be one that you hypothesize deserve restitution for that victimization. You will research a case for reparations for the harms committed and the damages that resulted from those harmful actions, and through your research findings and your critical thinking, you will argue your case for restitution for this crime. For this essay, you will document and explore the historical context of the group, the entity that caused the harm, and the event(s) that harmed the group. You will present and examine the damage done and the entity’s response to the damage they caused. What did they do to repair the damage? What should they have done? What efforts should be put in place to ensure effective reparations for such victims going forward? As you research, write and plan, remember that this is an argumentative essay: were there reparations and are they enough?

  • As you consider your argument for reparations, restitution, and/or restoration, think about the ways that while these concepts often include a cash settlement or financial compensation, these actions are distinct from settlements and other types of payouts because these ideas must also include restorative justice, and for many victims, a cash payment, while part of the reparative process, is not enough to satisfy their need for justice.
  • Note on the language: The term “reparations” has a powerful connotation in this country. Therefore, we will reserve this term for arguments about war trauma and destruction (this can be any war in any part of the world), including genocide, as well as for arguments about reparations for the enslavement of African Americans or for the subjugation of Native Americans, or any other indigenous peoples. For all other groups, use the terms “restoration” and/or “restitution,” along with applicable synonyms for those words.

Types of Reparations/Restituion to consider:

  • Public accountability, such as public apology in the form of a speech, a published article in a major news source, etc., memorials and museums around the country or in specific places to recognize the area, department of education implementing requirements of textbooks to include more focus on the history of slavery and segregation, etc.;
  • A set amount of money paid to documented victims and/or descendants of victims, paid for by the perpetrator of the harm;
  • Specific programs, privately sponsored or government sponsored—depending on who is responsible—implemented to address the effects, long and short term, so that the victims and/or their descendants can receive the same benefits and opportunities in order to gain equity after recovering from the harm.
  • Reformation and restoration of environments, including endangered habitats, sacred lands, historical public and/or private properties, etc.

Here are two examples:

  • State of the art recovery/rehabilitation clinics paid for by the makers of Oxycontin, in every county across the country, free to all of those who became addicted to drugs labeled and sold as “safe” and “non-addictive,” as well as public acknowledgement of culpability and a public apology by the Sackler family, who owns Purdue Pharma;
  • Priority admissions and grants to pay all fees for university admissions and living expenses for the college students that are documented descendants of the slaves who built Georgetown, Harvard, Yale, and other universities that slaves built or that slaves contributed to in some way, such as being subjects for research.

Guidelines for Complete

  • Length requirement: Be a minimum of 2000-2500 words which is about 8-10 pages (with so many sources to cover, this should be a breeze - trust), 12-pt Times New Roman font.
  • Source Requirements: Include a nuanced discussion of 6 credible sources, 3 of which are from scholarly journals. The other three don't need to be from scholarly journals but do need to be from credible publications. There is no additional assigned reading (besides textbook) for this paper. You choose your own articles.
  • There should be a balance of quoted and paraphrased material.
  • Include a thesis statement that puts forth a strong argument, balancing a statement that is neither too broad nor too specific. 
  • Body paragraphs should support your argument, discuss your research and synthesize your sources and utilize TEA for clarity.
  • Include a counter argument and developed refutation.
  • Be polished, professional and have well focused sentences that are easy to read.
  • Follow a traditional essay structure which includes a captivating introduction, supportive and well reasoned body paragraphs, and a well-rounded conclusion that includes a call to action.
  • Follow the research outline, including using Sub-Headings to format the sections of your paper. You will need to come up with your own headings.
  • Have accurate MLA in text citations for all information that is not common knowledge, all quotes and all paraphrases. All ideas and anything not cited or quoted is 100% your own work. 
  • Follow MLA format in regards to font, spacing, header, etc. 
  • Includes an accurate MLA Works Cited page.

Check below for list of helpful guides (which are now organized).

Some Example Groups—The possibilities are unfortunately infinite. Here are a few. Notice how specific they are in order to go as deep as you can in this writing assignment: 

  • Victims of the My Lai massacre,
  • People whose livelihoods were devastated by the BP oil spill,
  • Victims of Hurricane Katrina’s flooding,
  • People who have been wrongfully incarcerated due to failures (including corruption) of the criminal justice system,
  • Families who have lost a loved one due to mass shootings,
  • Members of the Cherokee tribe whose ancestors were victims of the Trail of Tears as part of the Indian Removal Act of 1830,
  • Victims of Purdue Pharma/Sackler Family corrupt marketing of addictive opioids
  • Victims of Police Brutality
  • LGBTQ people who were incarcerated due to anti-sodomy laws in the U.S.
  • Flint, Michigan residents who are victims of the Flint water crisis
  • Native Americans, including Alaska native peoples, who were stolen from their families and placed into boarding schools as a way to force them to assimilate into white culture
  • Alaska native peoples whose land and its food sources have been decimated due to the effects of climate change
  • And many more...