MSUBioNerd saidNot only did no living citizen participate in it, but so few of us can even be said to have benefitted from it through our families, because so many of our families either immigrated after slavery ended, or else didn't own slaves even if they were present while it was in practice.
Well, the argument goes something like this (agree with it or not, your choice):
Slavery, and a century of Jim Crow laws, did in fact give an enormous relative advantage to white folks, even non-slave-owning ones. Consumers benefited from the low prices that substandard wages subsidized; many marginally-qualified students attended schools and universities they may not have been admitted to had their not been segregation and de facto quotas; the list goes on and on. Slavery, seen by itself, did not cause the creation of the black underclass--arguably, it was the abrupt ending of Reconstruction and the century of relentless legal restriction that made black families unstable, and to some degree that pathology continues to this day. Many black families have imprisoned fathers, or absent ones, in a cycle that began nearly two hundred years ago.
As to what form of reparation would be sensible, I agree that cash payments would never be enough, and would be beside the point anyway. What's needed is some form of catch-up, and that was the idea behind affirmative action.