The Atlantic writer Ta-Nehesi Coates has tackled heady fare in several pieces for the publication in the past, but his latest work is stirring an uncomfortable conversation on race matters in America. In his latest feature, Coates makes a strong case for reparations to be awarded to Black Americans due to racial injustices of the past.
Coates dives in from the onset, telling the story of Chicago man Clyde Ross. Ross’ tale of how his family went from being successful farm owners to being reduced to sharecroppers and losing everything due to the divisive Jim Crow laws of the Deep South. Ross eventually moved north to Chicago as many Blacks at the time did for greater opportunity, and despite serving the nation in World War II he was still denied many freedoms.
Coates also takes a look of the widespread housing discrimination in Chicago, taking great care to highlight the North Lawndale neighborhood where Ross resides. The area has been sacked by the city’s widespread gun violence, in addition to glaring disparities in economics, education and quality of life.
Coates words regarding the case for reparations are especially potent, opening that portion of his feature using the case of freedwoman Belinda Royall who challenged the state of Massachusetts for reparations. Royall’s fight for reparations was seen as a success, but ultimately didn’t have the lasting effect as intended.
From The Atlantic:
A country curious about how reparations might actually work has an easy solution in Conyers’s bill, now called HR 40, the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act. We would support this bill, submit the question to study, and then assess the possible solutions. But we are not interested.
“It’s because it’s black folks making the claim,” Nkechi Taifa, who helped found N’COBRA, says. “People who talk about reparations are considered left lunatics. But all we are talking about is studying [reparations]. As John Conyers has said, we study everything. We study the water, the air. We can’t even study the issue? This bill does not authorize one red cent to anyone.”
Heavy stuff, but definitely necessary. Click here to read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ piece in full.
Photo: The Atlantic