I discovered Ta-Nehisi Coates this year with his essay titled “America’s First White President” and it was quite the trip to read through. I was doing something for work and noticed the page numbers were 20+ and freaked out because I thought to myself “Hoo boy this is a long essay.” My co-worker leans over to me and says “Have you ever seen a Ta-Nehisi Coates article before” and I nervously said I had not, they laughed. I wasn’t really sure what the real reason for why they laughed was until I came across this article; “The Case for Reparations.”
This article can be quite the shocker to readers from the first second you load it up alone. This was posted on Theatlantic.com which is home to headliner stories such as “Why Everybody Should Be Very Afraid of the Disney Death Star”, “It’s Really Hard to Know When a Zoo Animal Is Pregnant” and many other semi-political essays. One is traversing through these articles and sees the article in question; “Case for reparations? Compensations for something, oh boy. And a case? This is getting a little deep here.” One opens the article up and sees this gray monotone picture of a disarrayed building with stunning features like “BED BUGS + 277-5511” spray painted in stencil on a piece of cardboard that has been nailed to the side of the building. Quite startling.
One sees the title then reads the small text under it “Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.” Woah. One middle aged white American might’ve been looking for a fun read while drinking his morning coffee, but instead he got an intense 16000 word essay on the case for reparations.
This does not mean this essay is bad, it’s amazing. Give it a read. It’s just surprising.