At first I thought that it's crazy--there is no effing way the US is going to pay reparations to our black population. We aren't exactly flush with cash right now. To raise taxes on someone or everyone to pay reparations isn't going to fly.
That's absolutely true. There won't be any reparations paid anytime in the foreseeable future, or probably ever. However, it did drum up a lot of conversation. And people didn't just talk about slavery and Jim Crow--they talked about redlining and segregated housing, two issues that are a lot closer in time than slavery or Jim Crow. It got people thinking about how poorly civil rights were protected as recently as the 60's and 70's and maybe even more recently. That's a good reminder and a good history lesson. It got people asking whether we still have too much segregation--definitely a worthwhile conversation.
So I may not want to pay reparations, but I sure know that there is much to atone for. Are we really to the point that we've done all the changing we need to? Are we in a colorblind era where people are judged only on the content of their character? Not yet.
It's good to get a reminder so that we keep moving forward and don't slip back.
Extras. Critique by another black columnist--this view isn't productive, so let's stick with what is more likely to be. Conor Freidersdorf's column with a block of good comments including this scathing insight:
"Coates' socialist instincts prevents him from examining the issue of legal plunder without more legal plunder."Noah Millman's thoughtful response includes this:
"You make the case that your people has been brutalized and stolen from and raped and murdered with impunity. That case motivates the determination to rise up and prove your collective manhood by throwing the foreigner out of power. Depending on the circumstances, that might mean expelling an occupier, ... or carving one’s own state out from larger structure..."This is the closest to my thinking. The best reparation is creating a country that is fair and the way you want it to be--not a payoff from the government.