Enough With the Racism of 'Good People'
Ta-Nehisi Coates is tired of forgiving them
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2013 12:54 PM CST
Actor Forest Whitaker in a file photo.   (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)

(Newser) – An employee in a New York City deli accused a black man of shoplifting last month and frisked him on the spot, an event made remarkable only because the falsely accused happened to be Oscar winner Forest Whitaker. It's a great deli, writes Ta-Nehisi Coates in the New York Times, and its owners are "good people." But Coates, himself black, is done rationalizing such lapses—and he's done going to the deli. "We can forgive Whitaker’s assailant," he writes. "Much harder to forgive is all that makes Whitaker stand out in the first place."

We like to tell ourselves that racism exists only in evil people. Not so. Decades of misguided policies (think urban renewal) have created a wealth gap between the races "that haunts black people with a kind of invisible violence" and makes incidents like Whitaker's commonplace. "The promise of America is that those who play by the rules, who observe the norms of the 'middle class,' will be treated as such," he writes. But this doesn't apply to black people, "because we were never meant to be part of the American story." Coates figured out his response to the deli incident when he imagined it happening to his son. "And right then I knew that I was tired of good people, that I had had all the good people I could take." Click for Coates' full column.

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Showing 3 of 89 comments
whiteAmerican
Mar 11, 2013 10:56 AM CDT
I used to be realy racist as a young punk. as i grew older i became less racist. now that i am older i have become more racist again. The reason is , I am tired of paying for other races wilfare, illegal alians, people that won't work, people of color, that wan,t to do nothing but steal,kill whitey, and any thing else that they can do to cause nothing but trouble, Black people are more racist then any coulture i know.
BillTobey
Mar 9, 2013 6:02 PM CST
I'm going to approach this from a Scriptural basis which may bring our your prejudices. Adam & Eve because of their disobedience had a sin nature. You and I because of Adam & Eve have a sin natue.So what is the problem with a sin nature? It is inherently extremely seifish, believes more highly of iself than others and lies & cheats.Sadly, We are living the consequence of sin.Does this mean I'm condoning evil. Absolutely NOT!It means the soluton is Jesus Christ, no number of laws, training, tc. will ever eliminate the sin nature. Usually what happens in me when someone cnfronts me of my sin, I do not stop sinning I hide it better. Without Jesus there is no answer to racism. Am I biased (prejudice might be a better word)? YES! With Jesus' help I am able to be a more loving, kind, accepting person as I see things through his eyes but I will never be sin free, thus never bias free.Some would say I did not propose a feasible solution. I would say I propsed the ONLY feasible solution.
thirdimpact
Mar 8, 2013 8:07 PM CST
"We like to tell ourselves that racism exists only in evil people" The problem is that we are all, everyone of us, evil people. We all lie. We all steal. We all lust. We all murder people in our hearts. And then we like to pat ourselves on the back because we're not as bad as someone else.