Note: I am not endorsing this post. Not everything I post here is an endorsement. But I unlike most people do like examining things from all angles.
But, not quite on the same tack as Cowen, some other thoughts.
Sometimes there is a difference between what is morally correct and what makes economic sense, or even what would actually help. Understanding that is important, even (and especially) if one decides to do something immediately harmful for some hoped future gain, or just for the perception of righting past wrongs.
Personally, I think dismantling institutional racism is far, far more important than reparations, which would utterly divide the country.
Reparations are likely only to reinforce racism among those already prone to its worst manifestations, and would not have any lasting positive effect among black Americans. It’d be better that money were given to all poor people, white, black, or other, or even just $100,000 (for example) given to every person in America regardless of color or wealth (probably the most ideal solution most likely not to promote deranged animosity).
Anyway, arguing about reparations is about like arguing about meeting Albus Dumbledore, in that it’s about as likely to occur.