How Ta-Nehisi Coates Transformed Racism Into A Religion

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mmartin's picture

Coates's writings & philosophy:  What a load of bull. . . . stuff!

Bert Perry's picture

I agree that Coates is wrong to advocate reparations, and one might even argue that the past 50 years of "The Great Society" qualifies.  I once even calculated what slaves would have been owed for their wages, and the numbers came to about what we're spending on welfare annually for african-americans--about a quarter trillion dollars.  

That noted, it really misses bigger points.  For starters, do large cash payments really help the recipients?  For your answer, look at all those former athletes and actors going bankrupt--help is not a "gimme" here.  For that matter, look at the recipients of foreign aid and the like.  How's it all working out?

The biggest point, though, is to understand what Coates is doing in African-American culture; he's telling his audience their own story with his particular bent on it.  Keep in mind here that african-americans were kept illiterate for pretty much three centuries, and they will have a much stronger oral tradition than most whites will.   As a result, we might guess that the end of the story is going to remain exactly the same until something new breaks into the story.  

The trouble in places like Lawndale--one of the towns described in the piece--is that economically and culturally, what's been added?  They know their dads or granddads came to Chicago (wherever) for jobs, but there isn't much there for them--apart from the raw numbers, the story hasn't changed in half a century, really.  

If we wish to help in these neighborhoods, we need to add to the story in a way that says "Coates' ideas aren't going to get you where you want to go."  I'm not entirely sure how to go about that, but if I understand what's going on, that's what must happen--for the sake of everybody.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.