It's Time for Reparations for Black Americans
Ta-Nehisi Coates starts the conversation in the 'Atlantic'
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2014 12:55 PM CDT
In this Sept. 14, 1960, photo, an unidentified black man eats at a lunch counter in Tampa, Fla., during a citywide protest against segregation.   (AP Photo/File)

(Newser) – Ta-Nehisi Coates argues in a lengthy cover story in the Atlantic that America must at long last take up the question of making reparations to black people. He focuses not just on slavery, however, but also on the following 150 years of systemic racism—with banks working in collusion with the government—that have kept African-American families back. Coates isn't prescribing specific remedies, but he thinks a good start would be to pass a bill offered every year by Michigan Rep. John Conyers that calls on Congress to study slavery and its effects, along with recommendations for "appropriate remedies." In 25 years, it's never made it to the House floor.

"Perhaps after a serious discussion and debate—the kind that HR 40 proposes—we may find that the country can never fully repay African Americans," writes Coates. "But we stand to discover much about ourselves in such a discussion—and that is perhaps what scares us." Coates knows the idea of reparations will be dismissed by many as a "harebrained" lefty scheme, but no matter:

  • "What I’m talking about is more than recompense for past injustices—more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant bribe. What I’m talking about is a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal. Reparations would mean the end of scarfing hot dogs on the Fourth of July while denying the facts of our heritage. Reparations would mean the end of yelling 'patriotism' while waving a Confederate flag. Reparations would mean a revolution of the American consciousness, a reconciling of our self-image as the great democratizer with the facts of our history."
Click for the full story, which concludes with the recent penalties against Bank of America and Wells Fargo for predatory lending practices against minorities, a reminder that the kind of institutional racism Coates is talking about is still alive and well.

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Showing 3 of 485 comments
Ezekiel 25:17
Jun 2, 2014 10:50 AM CDT
The director of a local African American Studies program sees racism in a new dark form. Its companies sending teams of hiring agents to Africa to hire candidates to bring back to the USA. The idea is that the diaspora experience of the US born Black person is enough to repel hiring them. That diaspora has been around long enough to be wired into their DNA by now. So this Black Phd program director is upset American universities and companies are hiring Black people (from Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, etc) by the droves, in huge numbers, to fill very nice positions of major US corporations and universities. That may be more of the racism problem than anything else.
cracked_grill
Jun 2, 2014 12:40 AM CDT
The president is a spade. Consider slavery repaid. Get over it now
Brambles
May 28, 2014 4:44 PM CDT
$$$ trillions have been spent to rectify the wrongs of ages ago, and still black "culture" is mired in entitlement and failure. I think it may be time to cut the cord and be done trying to rectify the wrongs of long ago, as they apparently lead only to further failure. Enough is enough.