The Gray Area with Sean Illing

The Gray Area with host Sean Illing is a philosophical take on culture, politics, and everything in between. We don’t pretend to have the answers, but we do offer a space for real dialogue. Resist certainty, embrace ambiguity, and get some cool takes on a very hot world. Formerly the Vox Conversations podcast. New episodes drop every Monday and Thursday.


40 Acres: The original promise

Fabiola Cineas talks with Nkechi Taifa, the founder and director of the Reparation Education Project, about the history of the fight for reparations in America. Though they came to the forefront during the 2020 election in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, activists have been fighting for repayment for slavery since the practice was abolished. This is part of 40 Acres, a four-part series examining reparations in the United States.

This series was made possible by a grant from the Canopy Collective and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. To provide feedback, please take our survey here:

Host: Fabiola Cineas, race and policy reporter, Vox

Guest: Nkechi Taifa, founder and director of the Reparation Education Project


  • WMUR, 2019: Joe Biden discusses China-US trade talks, gun violence
  • The N'COBRA movement and HR 40
  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr.: The Truth Behind “40 Acres and a Mule”
  • Summer of Change: The Civil Rights Story of Glen Echo Park
  • Los Angeles Times, 1995: Inspired by Marcus Garvey, Audley Moore has struggled to lift up African Americans
  • The Republic of New Africa
  • The Atlantic: Martin Luther King Makes the Case for Reparations
  • HR 442 — Civil Liberties Act of 1987
  • HR 40 — Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act
  • Pew Research Center: Black Americans Have a Clear Vision for Reducing Racism but Little Hope It Will Happen
  • Gallup polling on American attitudes and race
  • Belinda Sutton and Her Petitions
  • No Pensions for Ex-Slaves: How Federal Agencies Suppressed Movement To Aid Freedpeople
  • Wall Street Journal, 2019: "Reparations Ray" Blazed Lonely Trail
  • Associated Press, 2019: New Orleans mayor to apologize for 1891 lynching of 11 Italian Americans
  • NPR, 2009: Senate Apologizes For Slavery
  • ABC News: Advocates call on Biden to act on reparations study by Juneteenth
  • NPR, 2006: COINTELPRO and the History of Domestic Spying
  • Washington Post, 2000: In Aetna's Past: Slave Owner Policies
  • New York Times, 2016: Insurance Policies on Slaves: New York Life's Complicated Past


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This episode was made by: 

  • Producer: Jonquilyn Hill 
  • Engineer: Patrick Boyd
  • Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: A.M. Hall

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 2022-09-01  55m