The best way to seek forgiveness is possibly both reparations and an emotional apology. Not everyone will be willing to hear out or answer an apology. This is explained by Spelman,
“The one to whom the apology is offered can threaten the execution of the apology if she disagrees with the description of that for which the apology is offered”(84), “Silence is-but does not seem-an option for the person to whom the apology is offered”(85).
Using solely reparations is cold-hearted and harder to grasp onto for the one who is offered the apology. We see an example of this in chapter five when Spelman discusses the reparations the United States government gave to the surviving victims and their families of the Tuskegee. Regardless of the hefty ten million dollars, the African-American community is understandably still frustrated with the government. Although the lack of emotion in the apology from Bill Clinton comes more from the lack of validity in his emotion as he was uninvolved in the U.S.’s racial atrocities rather than how legitimately sorrowful he may feel, this is still a strong example of how just reparations are not enough.
When others refuse to hear out my apology, a great way to coerce them into communicating is to use immediate reparations first. For example, in an argument between friends, the apologizer can first ask to take the one harmed out to dinner. This shows that the apologizer is invested and is willing to “pay the price” to talk to the other person without impersonally paying them cash, as well as it being a nice gesture. It may not get them speaking at first, but at least they’re at the table. Then I can begin a genuine apology that they’ll be able to hear and consider. Nine times out of ten this works for me. No one is happy with solely reparations unless they are completely uninterested in what the potential apologizer has to say in the first place. It is the combination of both that can truly get the job done.
On the opposite side, In chapter 4 of Repair, Spelman discusses the difference between restorative justice and our current justice system. She states that they are both flawed, which is true. Restorative justice works on a fairly open ended case-by-case basis of “punishment” which is hard to enforce as fair when the accused cite precedent. Using a combination of both, with restorative justice variating and traditional justice being the base, I believe we can make a fair and reparative justice system. Say for example, two people both commit robberies, one of a local mom-and-pop shop, and one of a franchise. Both should receive the same sentence from a jury in our justice system. Although the one who stole from the mom-and-pop shop had nearly run them out of business and the community would have suffered because they are emotionally attached to the owners and their memories of visiting the store. That criminal would not only have to apologize to the owners but also other local community members. The criminal who robbed the franchise would in turn only have to apologize to the chain owner as the corporate owners would not have let the store go out of business.