Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Case for Reparations

Plenty of people will be reading and talking about Ta-Nehisi Coates's new article in the Atlantic. Of course you should read it too. I don't have much to say at the moment, except to note that his case for the enduring importance of racism in the postwar period is if anything an understatement, because it focuses almost entirely on inequality and segregation in housing, enforced by both legal and extra-legal means. This is a crucial and underappreciated story, but there is much more that he leaves out. Looming large in my mind would be the role of the criminal justice system and incarceration in reproducing and reinforcing racial injustice. It's something Coates has written about, and I presume it will be part of his account if and when there is a book-length treatment.

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