Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. He wrote The Case for Reparations in the June 2014 issue of The AtlanticChion WolfWNPR
Ta Nehisi Coates is one of the most important voices in America today. He made the case for reparations last summerwhen he argued that it’s time for America to confront the impact of slavery, Jim Crow, and other discriminatory policies that have consistently denied African Americans opportunities afforded other Americans. He says until we admit to the debts accrued from years of racism, we can never be whole.
Discrimination allowed early settlers to prosper on the backs of African slaves over 250 years ago, creating a wealth gap that continues to the present day, often through discriminatory policies adopted as America tried to regain its financial footing after World War II. Black people, including veterans, were denied education through the GI Bill, relegated to red-lined neighborhoods and predatory lenders, and forced to live under the doctrine of “separate but (un)equal.”
Yes, we have a black president, black Attorney General and blacks fill more positions of power than ever before. But, when Ta-Nehisi Coates tells us that the Baltimore in the recent news isn’t much different than the Baltimore where he grew up, it’s time to talk about why.
John spoke with Ta-Nehisi Coates last Thursday at Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford while Coates was in town to receive the 2015 Stowe Prize for writing to advance social justice.