Reparations are a restitution for slavery - an apology and repayment to black citizens whose ancestors were forced into the slave trade.
It's a policy notion that many black academics and advocates have long called for, but one that politicians have largely sidestepped or ignored.
But increased activism around racial inequalities and discussions among Democratic 2020 presidential candidates have thrust the issue into the national spotlight.
This week, talk of reparations made headlines after a Fox News contributor argued against the policy by saying the US actually deserves more credit for ending slavery as quickly as it did.
"America came along as the first country to end it within 150 years, and we get no credit for that," Katie Pavlich said on Tuesday, adding that reparations would only "inflame racial tension even more".