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Ta-Nehisi Coates' Powerful Case for Reparations

Reparations. It’s a conversation decades in the making, and Ta-Nehisi Coates has reignited the debate once again. With his powerful cover story in The Atlantic, Coates asks his readers to reconsider how they think about reparations. He constructs a historical retrospective on the effects of institutional racism post-slavery, post-Jim Crow, and up to the modern day.

In an interview with Fusion’s Alicia Menendez, Coates explained how institutions from the real estate industry to the federal government have created a systemic epidemic that leaves African Americans at a disadvantage.

READ: “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates

“I think the big thing people need to understand, is that how the middle class was built in America… was mostly through housing,” Coates told Menendez. “Housing… was largely a governmental creation through the FHA (Federal Housing Administration), which decided that for a certain period of time, it would back loans. And the loans that the FHA backed, they did for all Americans–except for one really particular group. And that group was African-Americans.”

The challenge Coates posed to viewers was the same he posed to his readers. As he writes in piece, “The memories of those robbed of their lives still live on in the lingering effects. Indeed, in America there is a strange and powerful belief that if you stab a black person 10 times, the bleeding stops and the healing begins the moment the assailant drops the knife. … We believe white dominance to be a fact of the inert past; a delinquent debt that can made to disappear if only we don’t look. There has always been another way.”

CREDIT: Victoria Moreno, Cleo Stiller and Bianca Perez

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