TA-NEHISI COATES would win my vote as the single greatest American mind of 2014 if i were asked. He’d win a Pulitzer for his Atlantic work.
“The Case for Reparations” is not the only piece, not even the only great piece, that MR. COATES wrote this year, or has written in the past. But it is last year’s most important journalistic endeavor (other than some outstanding Ferguson citizen journalism, see below).
Reparations is one of two or three of the greatest important social questions of the day. Indeed, the other two are probably related somehow to the issue of Reparations. America’s credibility has been compromised by a police state that brutalizes Afrikan-americans and, separately and unequally, treats whites with constraint. And how then are we ever going to address the issue of white privilege, which has made America the homeland of apartheid.
The injustices imposed upon Afrikan-americans in this country, if listed would make a book the size of crime and punishment.
TA-NEHISI COATES avoided making broad declarations the way that Reparations opponents do — as in the oft-repeated “all the victims are dead”. Instead he respectfully examined each of the “problems” with Reparations.
MR. COATES then explained in clear and concise terms why they are wrong. Many assertions we hear again and again do deserve to be re-examined, we all know how much easier it is to believe a lie after we’ve heard it 20 times rather than just once.
Through the lens of a Black family’s history living in Mississippi “The Case for Reparations” tells their simple story of survival under the Mississippi “kleptocracy” of the early 20th century. As simple as the story is, it is a discomfiting, horrifying story of government-supported terrorism, theft, abuse of the most vulnerable members of society — and ultimately it is the story of judges and legislators and bankers who failed to make good on debts they owed to Afrikan-american families.
MR. COATES did not offer his own ideology, he didn’t insert political opinions to either justify or kill certain ideas.
What he did do, along with penning an historical document of huge value, was to get people talking about Reparations, hopefully at water coolers. More importantly MR. COATES got them talking during the long Ferguson summer. Not that the author planned it that way — i have no clue how he plans his work. And obviously if MR. COATES knew that Ferguson, Missouri, was going to erupt he would be a billionaire for such a close, concise forecast of the future. So, no, he couldn’t have planned it that way if he tried..
I want to thank him — with digital applause i guess, for forcing us to look at the words he wrote. There are people who would refuse to read anything with Reparations in the title. And, little by little, there are those people (Black and white, both) who out of curiosity accidentally learn something.
TA-NEHISI COATES and all writers as passionately altruistic as he, are the ones poised to bring change to a flawed system.through the strokes of their mighty pens, virtual or real. They may have the best solutions of any of us.
- TARIQ NASHEED is an intellectual “man-of-all-trades.” He’s an author, a radio personality, teacher and lecturer, among other things. One of those other things is film director.
This past year we saw the third installment of “HIDDEN COLORS” hit a few big screens. MR. NASHEED’s guest commentators included NAS, PAUL MOONEY, DR. KHALIL GIBRAN MUHAMMAD, DAVID BANNER and DICK GREGORY, among many others. The trilogy is a brilliant alternative to many of the textbooks our children use, though they’re still stamped with 20th century copyright dates.
The subtitle of HC 3 is “The Rules of Racism” and it is probably not intended for the emotionally oversensitive members of society. The subject matter is as it was in HC 1 and 2, frank and brutally honest. Quite frankly i think installment three is the best, although i said that about each of the first two after seeing them. I think it’s just the sensation of having your mind reeling with information that causes you to make big proclamations.
In Hidden Colors 3 there is indeed such a huge amount of information that unless you have a PhD. in African-centered history you will feel compelled to watch it more than once.
TARIQ NASHEED is a gifted intellectual who, again as an altruistic member of society, did all the hard work making the trilogy: Now he only asks us to watch the films, and discuss. Discuss. Discuss.
But NASHEED would demand that we take action as well. The heart of the problem is that there are too many discussions and not enough action.
- JUSTIN SIMIEN the Dear white people filmmaker has only managed to make the year’s most controversial film (and probably the best, next to the “Hidden Colors” installment). The film is in a sense about the hell that white privilege unleashes on others. Of course there should never have been a privilege for whites to parade around in Black face. There should certainly not be a white privilege to enjoy an exemption from police brutality that Blacks do not enjoy — i’d love an america in which cops were not allowed to beat anyone. Those white testosterone-overrun boys sit around watching Black men being beaten by cops and they are dreaming of doing the same thing.
JUSTIN SIMIEN, whether or not he wins an Oscar, has made whiteness look absurd. Absurd and cruel. If he accomplishes nothing else he has probably instilled better awareness of white privilege into the conversations about race.