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A Conversation With Ta-Nehisi Coates on The Case For Reparations

via buzzfeed. Audio available here, as is the whole Q&A.Some excerpts below.

SH: To kind of get into that; I think [for] a lot of black people of means or education, it can be a little disheartening to be told, "You're the exception, not the rule." We live in a country where we're told hard work pays off, and for people who are black and have worked hard and it's paid off, it's easy to want to buy into that.

TNC: And here's something scarier: Not only are you the exception, you are not equal in terms of financials, in terms of wealth, to other people who you are sitting around. You're an exception compared to black people, but in the broader sense —

TNC: I think on all of our parts, in fact. I'll just talk from the black perspective. It's hard from the black perspective because, OK: You've just told me that I've been conned, I've been had, and, well, we live in a democracy, we're not the majority. So, what the hell? What am I supposed to do with that? It really creates some impossible existential dilemmas — to say nothing of people who profit from it. In America, we sell this doctrine of rugged individualism, but when you understand the history of housing in this country, this is is social planning. This is not rugged individualism. This is not a bunch of people went out in the suburbs and said, "OK, here. We're going to have a suburb." This is planned at the highest levels of government and black people were cut out of it. To be told that your piece of the pie out here in whatever suburb you live in is not simply the result of your individual efforts … yeah, you worked hard. You worked hard, but somebody else backed you and if the government hadn't done x, y, and z for you — which they did not do for this other group of people — then what would you be now? I think it goes even deeper than this. [James] Baldwin talks about how — excuse my language — niggers are like the abyss. Like this is the bottom to which you can never fall. It offers a kind of psychological reinforcement: "I'll never be down here."

If we were ever truly equal, it kind of would be chaos in this country. It really would. It would be, "Listen, you really, really have to compete with everybody now. There's no reinforcement. There's no stipulation. There's no place where your grandchildren or great-grandchildren will never sink." That really is the space black people occupy right now.

SH: And what's a white person to do?

TNC: Support H.R. 40. And support politics that support H.R. 40. A lot of people have been like, "Well, you're really depressing these days. Stop depressing me, Ta-Nehisi. Could you dance? Tell a joke? Please?" Yeah, I know, I'm pretty dark. The thing is, I'm not religious at all, but you have these sort of existential moments where you're like, OK, you know what, we're all going to die one day. Everything ends — all republics, all empires, all countries, all whatever. It all ends. All family lines. Everything dies out at some point. While I think that this presents a dire picture [and] I think we have issues, on some level as an individual, you have to decide how to live morally.


and if you need some late night reading material of course....

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