In a heartbreaking essay titled The Case for Reparations, the Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates examines the history of reparations in America and how white privilege and black disenfranchisement are not just the products of slavery, but of "social engineering, orchestrated by the shared racist presumptions of America’s public and private sectors."
The essay is exhaustive, painful to read and well researched. At its core is Coates' argument that the American legislature needs to support a bill called the HR 40 Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act. Before anyone starts rolling their eyes and shaking their fist, this bill would not demand financial reparations.
All HR 40 would do is establish a commission dedicated to exploring how the legacy of slavery has impacted the lives of African-Americans. As we all know, "reparations" is a dirty word that inspires guffaws to the tone of, "how the fuck would that work?" and "why should I pay money, I never owned any slaves?" I won't get into why those comments are completely idiotic because Mr. Coates does a much better job of explaining that than I ever could.
Perhaps the most powerful comment he makes is this one: "To ignore the fact that one of the oldest republics in the world was erected on a foundation of white supremacy, to pretend that the problems of a dual society are the same as the problems of unregulated capitalism, is to cover the sin of national plunder with the sin of national lying." Stop lying to yourself, America.
Read more about HR 40 and how you can support it here. But only after you finish reading Coates' essay.
[via The Atlantic]