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Sat May 24, 2014, 05:20 AM

White supremacy is alive and well: Ta-Nehesi Coates and the case for reparations

Signs of overt racism still are all around us, be it a New Hampshire police commissioner's use of an ethnic slur to describe President Obama or an NBA team owner's disturbing remarks about black athletes and fans. By now, we all know the drill, the media call these people out for their ugly words and we play our parts, shaking our heads in sad disbelief -- then return to our daily lives.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor at The Atlantic magazine, thinks it's time for a bold step to change the way we talk and think about race in America. This week, I speak to Coates about his June cover story for the magazine, provocatively titled "The Case for Reparations." In it, Coates argues that we have to dig deeper into our past and the original sin of slavery, confronting the institutional racism that continues to pervade society. From the lynching tree to today's mass incarceration of young African-Americans, he says we need to examine our motives more intently and reconcile the moral debt and economic damage inflicted upon generations of black Americans.

For one, Coates points to a century of racist and exploitive housing policies that made it hard for African-Americans to own homes and forced them to live in poorer neighborhoods with unequal access to a good education, resulting in a major wealth gap between black and white. In fact, the median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households, according to a Pew Research Center study.

"There are plenty of African-Americans in this country -- and I would say this goes right up to the White House -- who are not by any means poor, but are very much afflicted by white supremacy," Coates says. By white supremacy Coates says he refers to an age-old system in America which holds that whites "should always be ensured that they will not sink to a certain level. And that level is the level occupied by black people."
Coates explains to me: "I am not asking you as a white person to see yourself as an enslaver. I'm asking you as an American to see all of the freedoms that you enjoy and see how they are rooted in things that the country you belong to condoned or actively participated in the past."


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Reply White supremacy is alive and well: Ta-Nehesi Coates and the case for reparations (Original post)
ismnotwasm May 2014 OP
heaven05 May 2014 #1
shaayecanaan May 2014 #2
Stellar May 2014 #3
ismnotwasm May 2014 #4

Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Sat May 24, 2014, 08:46 AM

1. "white supremacy is alive and well"


Last edited Sun May 25, 2014, 09:28 AM - Edit history (1)

in amerikkka. True. Whether that translates into reparations? This I seriously doubt. But nice fantasy. While slavery is an historical fact along with post slavery segregation(amerikkkan apartheid jim crow laws) the powers that be and their cliven bundy, zimmerman, sterling tools could give a damn less about those realities. That racism, bigotry and ignorance is rife, especially because a man with melanin in his skin is occupying the white house located at 1600 Pennsylvania ave. means nothing to the people who are happy for those divisive tools of racism, ignorance and downright stupidity of some that keeps the races at each others throats. Poverty, that's minority as well as appalachian type poverty, is used to keep us at each others throats. We fight over the crumbs from the loaf the 1% enjoy everyday. People like ryan, cruz, issa, paul, palin, and their media mouthpieces, we all know their names, keep stirring up racial difference as a tool to divide and conquer the 99%ers. As long as one race is continually told of their superiority and others are reminded of their alleged inferiority, by the institutionalized racist mechanisms that keep us divided, we will continue to fight over the crumbs tossed at us like hungry dogs while the PTB continue to eat at the table of affluence.They laugh and enjoy the fruits of this system while we tear at each other because of something as inconsequential as skin color and consequential like the manufactured poverty of a large portion of the 99%. They will never own up to the reasons for a lot of the racial discord in this nation. The major religions helped to perpetuate racism, Southern baptists, bob jones university, the pat robertsons still think that blacks are somehow inferior to whites. And many do believe that if Jesus says so, according to their religious leaders, then it must be true. No, reparation will never happen for the african-american. The japanese got reparation for american racism, native americans even got a sort of reparation, some have casinos now, but african-americans will never see a balancing of the books for all of the labor provided, while in chains of bondage and oppression. The building of this country into the 'democracy' that it is today entailed genocide and slavery. Classes were created. Poor whites, poor blacks with the blacks at the lowest rung of the american class ladder striving for some of that american pie and that ensured racial discord among the 99%. That manufactured discord is very apparent today. No, there is no slaver active in this country today, true. But the almighty dollar or lack of them keeps us enslaved by the poverty that creates class division. The actions and history of the past mean nothing to the corporate heads or bankers that run this country. They will continue to keep us divided in the name of profit which ran the original engine of slavery and never give any thought to paying a dime for any past injustice....institutional racism is a tool and the PTB will never allow any type of real soul searching until we, the 99%, make this the country that provides liberty, equality and justice for all. Just my take on this gentleman's article and call for conscience awakening. Interesting article premise though.

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Response to heaven05 (Reply #1)

Sat May 24, 2014, 09:46 AM

2. Well, rightfully it all belongs to the red man anyway...

To be honest, to set him right would require everyone else to leave the country so he could have his land back.

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Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Sat May 24, 2014, 11:21 AM

3. I'm gonna purchase his book

right away. I was most impressed by it.

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Response to ismnotwasm (Original post)

Sat May 24, 2014, 12:01 PM

4. And for a handy guide

How To Tell Who Hasn't Read The New 'Atlantic' Cover Story

1. They talk a lot about slavery.

When people hear "reparations," they automatically think that what's being discussed is reparations for slavery. Coates does talk about slavery in the piece in particular, he notes the story of a formerly enslaved woman named Bellinda Royal who sued her former owner for recompense for her labors. But much of his focus falls on American housing policy from nearly a century later, events that have happened within living (and even recent) memory.

2. They talk about the logistics of reparations.

One of the critiques that always greet conversations about reparations is that they would be politically untenable and logistically thorny.

Coates is pointedly not interested in these questions. (Or at least, he isn't in this essay.) His larger argument is less about reparations for our history, per se, than it is about a kind of excavation of it.

3. They talk about affirmative action or welfare.

The other leap that people make when they hear conversations about reparations is to point to contemporary policy attempts to ameliorate inequality, most notably affirmative action and welfare. (Let's leave aside for a moment the very big question of whether these policies do or were ever intended to right historical wrongs or inequities.)


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