There was a time not long ago when we believed that all we needed for equality was a fair shot. Don't deny us the opportunity to use places of public accommodation, to absorb as much education as our appetites demand, to work where our skills and potential warrant, to vote for the people who make our laws, to live where our money will allow and, in general, to seek the good things of life.
That demand could be translated: We don't need white America to do anything for us because we are black; only stop doing things to us because we are black. Just treat us fairly from now on.
The demand for reparations says something else: that fair treatment from now on can't solve our problems; we need someone else to solve them or, failing that, to accept the responsibility for them.
Or just give us a bunch of money.
I would like to propose that Black activists ask themselves, "WWCD?" (What Would Cosby Do?). Can you imagine Dr Huxtable's response if Theo started talking about reparations in the kitchen? It would be a bigger smackdown than the time Theo wanted to drop out of school to drive a bus.