historian Ed Baptist has written, enslavement ‘shaped
crucial aspect of the economy and politics’ of America,
that by 1836 more than $600 million, almost half of the
activity in the United States, derived directly
indirectly from the cotton produced by the million-odd slaves.
Coates, Testimony before Congress on Reparations
watched Ta-Nehisi Coates’ testimony before the US Congress on
June 19, 2019. Juneteenth. The subject of the hearing was
an older black woman, I was proud to witness another generation of
black Americans speak with conviction and courage while articulating
the African American experience in the US of A, beginning with our
enslavement, through to the era of legalized segregation to the mass
incarceration of generations of black Americans for non-violent
spoke of the “plunder” of black lives, lives that didn’t
matter either to colonizers in the Old World nor colonizers in the
was proud to watch a younger black American speak truth to power;
yet, as I’ve said again and again, I’m in my mid-sixties,
and I never thought we’d be here when, in Chicago, I looked
forward in the year 1969, the year I joined the struggle. This nation
still requires another generation of blacks to provide a history
lesson on the violence inflicted on African Americans as a result of
Africa, the birthplace of humanity, becoming a land in which to rob
it of resources and human laborers. This nation still requires a
history lesson on the backlash against black gains during
Reconstruction and the subsequent era of Jim Crow and the
continuation of torture, rape, and the added “sport” of
the 1970s, thanks to President Nixon, and the 1980s, thanks to
President Reagan, and once against, the 1990s, thanks to President
Bill Clinton, crime became synonymous with black lives that just
simply didn’t matter. Subject to police brutality, to workplace
and housing discrimination, to inadequate education in rundown and
underfunded schools, white America, whether liberal or conservative,
believes there’s nothing more than can be done to make up for
those years, way back when—the current generations of whites
alive weren’t even around.
part of his testimony, Coates addressed Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell’s articulation for white Americans who can’t
fathom why blacks are even thinking about Reparations. McConnell,
speaking with the authority of an American steeped in the narrative
of white supremacy and its justification for the outright dismissal
of anything black America puts forth regarding white responsibility
for enslavement, announced to the world that Reparations, chuckle,
chuckle, chuckle, was out of the question. How absurd a thought!
Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle, to think America, Americans, fellow white
citizens, would even consider such a notion as Reparations. Chuckle,
Who is alive from bygone days of slavery?
absurd the notion of Reparations to McConnell, generations of white
Americans alive today benefit from those years in which blacks toiled
in the sun, in cotton and tobacco fields. Along with generations
before them, not to mention, generations to come, America become the
superpower it is today because of the very profitable enterprise of
enslavement. Free labor means something!
is impossible,” Coates tells the world, “to imagine
America without the inheritance of slavery?”
we know this by now?
white Americans recall, as does Coates and millions of black
Americans, the “relentless campaign of terror” inflicted
on African Americans, “a campaign that extended well into the
lifetime of Majority Leader McConnell” and the lifetimes of
millions of white Americans? It’s not just hundreds of years of
enslavement, of torture, of rape, of cruelty and brutality, but also
the destruction of black communities, black lives well into the
future. Into the now of our lives in the United States.
becomes free labor coerced from incarcerated blacks. Lynching is the
shooting of blacks by law enforcement, fearful of their lives.
is tempting to divorce this modern campaign of terror, of plunder,
from enslavement, but the logic of enslavement, of white supremacy,
respects no such borders and the guard of bondage was lustful and
begat many heirs. Coup d’états and convict leasing.
Vagrancy laws and debt peonage. Redlining and racist G.I. bills. Poll
taxes and state-sponsored terrorism. We grant that Mr. McConnell was
not alive for Appomattox. But he was alive for the electrocution of
George Stinney. He was alive for the blinding of Isaac Woodard. He
was alive to witness kleptocracy in his native Alabama and a regime
premised on electoral theft. Majority Leader McConnell cited
civil-rights legislation yesterday, as well he should, because he was
alive to witness the harassment, jailing, and betrayal of those
responsible for that legislation by a government sworn to protect
them. He was alive for the redlining of Chicago and the looting of
black homeowners of some $4 billion. Victims of that plunder are very
much alive today. I am sure they’d love a word with the
terms of the economy, money, profits—a legacy of privilege and
power for white America—and subjugation of black America
obliged the occupiers and the white immigrants to come. Holding a
people back if theft, and there’s no innocence in this
American sees itself as victims of black people’s annoying
reminders of those old days—the bad parts—best left
hidden behind the golden locks of little Shirley Temple.
the problem is you and your propensity for charging racism here and
are greeted every time either with confounded looks or anger. Either
way, white America exonerates itself from the massive campaigns of
violence perpetrated against blacks and Indigenous Americans.
brings us to Joe Biden, so clueless as to believe he isn’t a
racist. Hell no! Not a racist bone in his body, even if he befriended
segregationist Sen. James Eastland who didn’t call him “boy”
but “son.” Yeah, son. Of course! And Anita Hills’
testimony was funny, wasn’t it?
on the day of Coates’ testimony.
call me a racist!
many times have we heard those words?
too many white Americans of whatever political affiliation, there’s
a wish to see blacks disappear rather than racism. Just ignore black
people and maybe the problem of racism, of white supremacy, of that
ugly history we’d rather not confront will disappear.
what doesn’t disappear so easily is ignored. So how many whites
talked to me about the black family confronted by fearful police
officers? How many mentioned any black murdered by law enforcement?
But it’s always a shame to hear about crime—black
good! Be a good n_____g!
live in different worlds. I think about someone like Kalief Browder,
surrounded by white America’s crime narrative, contemplating
suicide while in solitary confinement. Not even convicted. A backpack
he said he didn’t steal. Three years in total. Locked up.
Thinking about suicide.
he takes his life after his release.
the other day, Trump, according to the RNC, raises $24.8 million in
less than 24 hours.
Coates is testifying to the black experience in America but is white
I watched Ta-Nehisi Coates’ testimony. I think black America
did too. Particularly the younger generations looking to be a part of
a new era, divorced from the unfree.