Tag Archives: TA-NEHISI COATES

The Prophet Speaks: The State Of Black America

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Those people create words to fool and mislead, and most have no idea that they are being hoodwinked. For example, white folk say the word “nigger” is too painful for them, but they say the “n-word” is not. They are still calling you a nigger with the revised version of the word! So what’s changed!

Then “they,” told us that racism is dead and we now live in a post-racial society. Does anyone see that as truth, let alone believe it! “They” are calling the times in which we live the new millennium that is suppose to make the world happy again as they try to “take back their country.” I say, and speak for black folk, “we have not overcome”. In fact, black folk are worse off than at any time in the history of Black America.

In this new millennial, as they call it, there is a black face in the White House and American supposedly evolved concerning matters of race. The truth is: there is more significant poverty, dire health issues, less educational opportunities, the school to prison pipeline, an explosion of the prison industrial complex, weekly killings of unarmed black people by the law for virtually nothing, unemployment unraveling black communities and family. Still, black people continue to believe and hold on looking that better place when you’re dead!

My friends these conditions are reminiscent and worse than they were under Jim Crow segregation or slavery. However, what is more pronounced and the most serious problem today is the occupying forces that reign terror on communities where black people live. In the early 1960s, Minister Malcolm X gave a speech about the problem of unlawful police actions against black people in America that is as real and dangerous today as they were then.

Listen to this powerful message concerning police brutality that continues some fifty years later. They said then as they say now, if more blacks were on the police force – police brutality would end. Well, time has shown us this was not true then or now! The black officers are worse, and most are people who remind me of my uncle Thomas, who we call Tom. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


A MESSAGE TO THE GRASSROOTS

1aListen to the message from the Prophet. Brother Malcolm’s words spoken fifty years ago to the grass roots. Education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair.

 

 


A Created People

2These stolen people, the so-called Negro, was created to be a people without hope, submissive, and robbed mentally of his heritage to be used to for the purpose of building a nation. While all these people have ever desired since being removed from Africa was to be treated as human being and to obtain the basic human right – equality –  simply put for America to honor the promise of freedom that it claims comes with liberty. I’ll quote Dr. King who said, “We were given a blank check” and we would like to cash it – paid in full.

Let’s be very clear, people of African descent are the only immigrates to come to this country against their will – then to be forced into a life of bondage was then and is now amoral. It is also worth mentioning, for the record, that “A Negro” was created by the wretched souls who arrived in America to lay claim to land that wasn’t even theirs. When I say, created I mean there was no such culture or nationality anywhere on earth before Europeans took the captives from Africa and brought them to America. The result was creating a nation of people placed in a strange land to live without a nationality. This was done specifically through the constitution and legislative laws sanctioned by the government.

From the very beginning, the Africans resisted their captivity and bondage which was to include during the ungodly trip across the Atlantic that history calls the Mid-Passage. Once the captives arrived on land, be it in America or the Caribbean, there was rebellion. There were many movements to obtain the promise of freedom like the Abolitionist Movement and Civil Rights Movements in varying forms. Not to mention, the many-many great leaders born to affect change but killed by the wretched system of slavery and/or during the period of segregation. I won’t say they all failed, but I will say they did not succeed because equal treatment, particularly under the law, and freedom is still absent today.

Many African Americans continue to suffer from the untreated wounds of America’s forefathers and their asymptomatic behaviors. These behaviors were never unlearned and have been passed down from generation to generation. Over my relatively short lifetime, I have been referred to as Colored, Negro, Afro-American, Black, and an African American, which were all polite terms assigned to make known that people of African descent were not American citizens.

This legacy of dependency, apathy, and entrenchment of the American social order from the beginning provides clear evidence of those with a diabolical intent to bankrupt the souls of a people based on an ideology of supremacy. These stolen souls that exist today are people who bear the burden of a system that perpetrated, in the name of God, the greatest crime known to man.

The concept of African Americans being slaves, physically or mentally, is as old as the nation itself, designed to deprive a people of its culture and knowledge through sustained policies of control. To overcome these indignities we must realize that education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize the forces that breed poverty and despair.

Regardless of how much we are held down, it is our responsibility to find a way to get up, even if the system is designed to protect the system. The great Bob Marley reminded us to “Stand-up – Stand-up for your rights”. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


A Teaching Moment

2Seems like once a week, particularly when it comes to matter’s of race, we hear pleas or some fool say, “It’s a Teaching Moment”! I am not just talking about the talking heads in the media, but those fools who have proclaimed themselves black leaders who make such statements with no remorse. My question is: are people, those folks, that dumb to ask us to believe that after 400 year of the same that we should learn from what I would call standard operating procedure.

Two instances in particular raised my blood presser! Dr. Kings son, Marty, went on MSNBC and argued the point that black people and their leaders should open a dialog with the Tea Party. Is that not like the chicken trying to appease the fox? First, everybody knows the Tea Party are simply the KKK in suits! Let me add, I don’t know anyone who voted for this guy to replace the “King” or any of them, who claim to be our voice. Seems to me, he has enough trouble in his our house [family] then to offer ANY advice to the black community at large. In fact, his mother and father are rolling over in their graves for their despicable behavior!

The other thing is, and I have to ask: why are black people or anyone for that matter shocked by the remarks made by Donald Sterling owner of the LA Clippers. There has never been a veil of secrecy surrounding the views of rich people with privilege and power. It is the mentality of these people to be bigots. Their privilege dictates as much. This old fool has benefited on the backs of his million dollar slave that resided on his plantation, and he will benefit to the tune of about a BILLION dollars.

Another owner made statements to suggest, he and all of the other owner are bigoted to some degree, and this guy was supposed to be the cool guy. Get real people – no one cares about you. Not these folks who rob you or pretend to support a cause that might benefit you. All of these folk who are suppose to speak for you are “paid well” to promulgate the same nonsense. Or as Brother Malcolm would say, you’ve been “hoodwinked”! You are supporting these folk and you have never been to a meeting or dare I say, never made a contribution to the cause in any way. Much in the same way most of you do every Sunday when you profess wanting to go to heaven but make sure you are nowhere near the front of the line.

Here is the teaching moment: Teach your kids, and if you believe so strongly in whomever the massager is – give them this message. Put their energy into efforts to improve the education that your kids should get because only then will they make a difference in the world. I am sure you know the old cliché “There’s a sucker born every day.” Does that me today is your birthday!

As in the recent situation involving the NAACP, who sold out for money under the guise of helping black children! What makes you think the rest of them aren’t doing same, as well? When you can name ONE THING these so-called black leaders have done for their people, except take your money, let me know. I am going to be frank, “I would rather go to hell along, than to follow a fool to heaven because if some of these so-called leaders make it to haven – I know I went to the wrong place”.

Lastly, while most of you are facinated with J-Z & B or Kemye who does nothing for the broader culture but lend to destroying it. Yes, when I re-posted an article called “The Case For Reparations” I got the most negative comments. In fact, appalling  were appealing! Every other culture that was wronged was compensated when their injury was not near a great as that of Black People. If you want to do something, ask these so-called leaders to take a stand on this issue. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

The Case for Reparations


The Case for Reparations: An Intellectual Autopsy

2THIS IS A MUST READ!

This is the exact article written by TA-NEHISI COATES 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. I want to give proper credit, as I was unable to reblog this post. However, this is a very interesting read and has been viral. _________________________________________________

The best thing about writing a blog is the presence of a live and dynamic journal of one’s own thinking. Some portion of the reporter’s notebook is out there for you to scrutinize and think about as the longer article develops. For me, this current article—an argument in support of reparations—began four years ago when I opposed reparations. A lot has happened since then. I’ve read a lot, talked to a lot of people, and spent a lot of time in Chicago where the history, somehow, feels especially present.

I think I owe you a walk-through on how my thinking evolved. When I wrote opposing reparations I was about halfway through my deep-dive into the Civil War. I roughly understood then that the Civil War—the most lethal conflict in American history—boiled down to the right to raise an empire based on slaveholding and white supremacy. What had not yet clicked for me was precisely how essential enslavement was to America, that its foundational nature explained the Civil War’s body count.  The sheer value of enslaved African-Americans is just astounding. And looking at this recent piece by Chris Hayes, I’m wondering if my numbers are short (emphasis added):

In order to get a true sense of how much wealth the South held in bondage, it makes far more sense to look at slavery in terms of the percentage of total economic value it represented at the time. And by that metric, it was colossal. In 1860, slaves represented about 16 percent of the total household assets—that is, all the wealth—in the entire country, which in today’s terms is a stunning $10 trillion.

Ten trillion dollars is already a number much too large to comprehend, but remember that wealth was intensely geographically focused. According to calculations made by economic historian Gavin Wright, slaves represented nearly half the total wealth of the South on the eve of secession. “In 1860, slaves as property were worth more than all the banks, factories and railroads in the country put together,” civil war historian Eric Foner tells me. “Think what would happen if you liquidated the banks, factories and railroads with no compensation.”

As with any economic institution of that size, enslavement grew from simply a question of money to a question of societal, even theological, importance. I got that in 2011, from Jim McPherson (emphasis again added):

“The conflict between slavery and non-slavery is a conflict for life and death,” a South Carolina commissioner told Virginians in February 1861. “The South cannot exist without African slavery.” Mississippi’s commissioner to Maryland insisted that “slavery was ordained by God and sanctioned by humanity.” If slave states remained in a Union ruled by Lincoln and his party, “the safety of the rights of the South will be entirely gone.” If these warnings were not sufficient to frighten hesitating Southerners into secession, commissioners played the race card. A Mississippi commissioner told Georgians that Republicans intended not only to abolish slavery but also to “substitute in its stead their new theory of the universal equality of the black and white races.” Georgia’s commissioner to Virginia dutifully assured his listeners that if Southern states stayed in the Union, “we will have black governors, black legislatures, black juries, black everything.”

An Alabamian born in Kentucky tried to persuade his native state to secede by portraying Lincoln’s election as “nothing less than an open declaration of war” by Yankee fanatics who intended to force the “sons and daughters” of the South to associate “with free negroes upon terms of political and social equality,” thus “consigning her [the South’s] citizens to assassinations and her wives and daughters to pollution and violation to gratify the lust of half-civilized Africans…” This argument appealed as powerfully to nonslaveholders as to slaveholders. Whites of both classes considered the bondage of blacks to be the basis of liberty for whites. Slavery, they declared, elevated all whites to an equality of status by confining menial labor and caste subordination to blacks. “If slaves are freed,” maintained proslavery spokesmen, whites “will become menials. We will lose every right and liberty which belongs to the name of freemen.”

Enslavement is kind of a big deal—so much so that it is impossible to imagine America without it. At the time I was reading this I was thinking about an essay (which I eventually wrote) arguing against the idea of the Civil War as tragedy. My argument was that the Civil War was basically the spectacular end of a much longer war extending back into the 17th century—a war against black people, their families, institutions and their labor. We call the war “slavery.” John Locke helped me with that. This was all swirling in my head about the time I saw this article in the Times:

On Saturday, more than 15,000 students are expected to file into classrooms to take a grueling 95-question test for admission to New York City’s elite public high schools. (The exam on Sunday, for about 14,000 students, was postponed until Nov. 18 because of Hurricane Sandy.) No one will be surprised if Asian students, who make up 14 percent of the city’s public school students, once again win most of the seats, and if black and Hispanic students win few.

Last school year, of the 14,415 students enrolled in the eight specialized high schools that require a test for admissions, 8,549 were Asian. Because of the disparity, some have begun calling for an end to the policy of using the test as the sole basis of admission to the schools, and last month, civil rights groups filed a complaint with the federal government, contending that the policy discriminated against students, many of whom are black or Hispanic, who cannot afford the score-raising tutoring that other students can. The Shis, like other Asian families who spoke about the exam in interviews in the past month, did not deny engaging in extensive test preparation. To the contrary, they seemed to discuss their efforts with pride.

I was sort of horrified by this piece, because what the complaint seemed to be basically arguing for was punishing a group of people (Asian immigrants) who were working their asses off. It struck me that these were exactly the kind of people you want if you’re building a country. Even though I am arguing for reparations, I actually believe in a playing field—a level playing field, no doubt—but one with actual competition. It struck me as wrong to punish people for working really hard to succeed in that competition. This paragraph, in particular, got me:

Others take issue with the exam on philosophical grounds. “You shouldn’t have to prep Sunday to Sunday, to get into a good high school,” said Melissa Santana, a legal secretary whose daughter Dejanellie Falette has been prepping this fall for the exam. “That’s extreme.”

I was stewing reading this. It offended some of my latent nationalism—the basic sense that you want everyone on your “team” to go out there and fight. But as I thought about it I felt that there was something underneath the mother’s point. In fact there are people who don’t “have to prep Sunday to Sunday, to get into a good high school.” But they tend to live in neighborhoods that have historically excluded children with names like Dejanellie. Why is that? Housing policy. What are the roots of our housing policy? White supremacy. What are the roots of white supremacy in America? Justification for enslavement. A few days later I sent the following rambling memo to my editor, Scott Stossel:

Hey Scott. I have an essay that’s starting to brew in me that I’ve been thinking a lot about. Are you at all interested in a piece that makes the case for reparations? This is totally pie in the sky, but it’s my take on the Atlantic as a journal of “Big Ideas.” There’s this great piece in the Times a few weeks back about selective schools in New York and how Asian immigrants are dominating the process.

I found myself really compelled by a lot of the stories and actually in more sympathy with the Asians (now Asian-Americans) than with the blacks who were protesting. A lot of what they were saying reminded me of the sort of stuff my own parents said. And then something occurred to me. The reason why a lot of these black parents are upset is because the schools are basically credentialing machines for the corridors of power. By not going to a Stuyvesant you miss out on that corridor, so the thinking goes. And moreso the feeling is (though never explicitly said) that black people deserve special consideration, given our history in this country.

The result is that you have black parents basically lobbying for Asian-American kids to be punished because the country at large has never given much remedy for what it did to black people. I’ve thought the same before in reference to gentrification. The notion that DC should remain “black” has always struck me as really bizarre. Very little in America ever stays anything. Change is the nature of things. It only makes sense if you buy that black people are “owed” something. I.E. Since we never got anything for slavery, Jim Crow, red-lining, block-busting, segregation, housing and job discrimination, we at least deserve the stability of neighborhoods and cities we can call home.

I’m thinking about it with the Supreme Court set to dismantle Affirmative Action. Isn’t the “diversity” argument actually kind of weak? Isn’t the recompensation argument actually much more compelling? Except this was outlawed with Bakke. What I am thinking is right now, at this moment, American institutions (especially its schools) are being asked to answer for the fact that country lacked the courage to do the right thing. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision coming down, in the wake of (what looks like) a second Obama term, we could make a really strong case that now is the time renew a serious discussion about Reparations.

And we could move it beyond “Check in hand” discussion to something more sophisticated. Does this interest you? I actually could see us arguing that Obama has nothing to lose, and should explicitly support such a policy. He ain’t gonna do it. But we might–might–be able to make a good faith argument for it. Any interest?

All of this did not stick. (I don’t, for instance, think it would be a good idea for Obama to support reparations. That would actually be a horrible idea.) But by then I had it fully established in my head that we are asking other institutions to answer for something major in our history and culture. The final piece of this was the uptick in cultural pathology critiques extending from the White House on down. There is massive, overwhelming evidence for the proposition that white supremacy is the only thing wrong with black people.

There is significantly less evidence for the proposition that culture is a major part of what’s wrong with black people. But we don’t really talk about white supremacy. We talk about inequality, vestigial racism, and culture. Our conversation omits a major portion of the evidence. The final thing that happened was I became convinced that an unfortunate swath of  popular writers/pundits/intellectuals are deeply ignorant of American history. For the past two years, I’ve been lucky enough to directly interact with a number of historians, anthropologists, economists, and sociologists in the academy.

The debates I’ve encountered at Brandeis, Virginia Commonwealth, Yale, Northwestern, Rhodes, and Duke have been some of the most challenging and enlightening since I left Howard University. The difference in tenor between those conversations and the ones I have in the broader world, are disturbing. What is considered to be a “blue period” on this blog, is considered to be a survey course among academics. Which is not to say everyone, or even mostly everyone, agrees with me in the academy. It is to say that I’ve yet to engage a historian or sociologist who’s requested that I not be such a downer.

This process was not as linear as I’m making it out to be. But it all combined to make me feel that mainstream liberal discourse was getting it wrong. The relentless focus on explanations which are hard to quantify, while ignoring those which are not, the subsequent need to believe that America triumphs in the end, led me to believe that we were hiding something, that there was something about ourselves which were loath to say out in public. Perhaps the answer was somewhere else, out there on the ostensibly radical fringes, something dismissed by people who should know better. People like me.


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