Somewhere,somehow in the whirl of my life I found myself reading a number of pieces on race. The articles themselves were connected as it were and in something akin to a point/counterpoint fashion they helped cement an opinion expressed in the title.
For simplification I will focus on two articles as they in themselves represent two takes on the topic. Article number one is the much talked about Ta-Nahesi Coates Atlantic piece The Case for Reparations
Well researched for its length and content and capable in presenting some basic truths and logical opinions tied to those truths the article comes with an official Alfie recommended read tag. The piece however does not fail to be loaded with the views and bias of its author. To Coates credit (or discredit for not seeing it?) it includes punch to the face truths which look at his own biases and seem to say “seriously,you don’t get this”?
Ultimately Coates is firmly ensconced in the realm of intellectual thought that black America is owed something and that moving forward is impossible without a repentant focus on the past.
The second is John McWhorter’s The Case for Moving On found in City Journal.
This piece starts out as a rebuke of a Coates like tirade by Theodore R Johnson III who like many folks witch hunts racism under every rock and in every corner of our society. McWhorter gets around to addressing Coates assertions and in doing so paints a picture that is worthy of gazing upon. No Uncle Tom by any means McWhorter is fully aware of the past and does not seek (and never has) to ,pardon the phrase, whitewash our collective history. McWhorter makes the clearer case that moving on doesn’t call for excusing the past anymore than it allows for continuing to rest on lame excuses preventing folks from moving on. I liked both articles but confess being a fan of McWhorters work and as such his comes with an Alfie recommendation plus.
I still came to the conclusion that prompted my title choice and for good reason. Reparations is a nonsense cause. It is never ever gonna happen. Whether together as a nation we can fix some of the chronic ills caused by our past is something to be seen. If it is to happen I am sure it will come from looking forward not back and will require both whites and blacks to look at themselves equally hard in the mirror.
The reality of race relations in the United States is this though. There will not be some type of apologetic,grateful and reflective thank you offered to black America because it is so throughly clear you were never welcome here. This statement would seem to play heavily into the hand of those like Coates,Johnson and dare I go there Sharpton et al. The thing is though that their base assertions that discussions on race have not occurred,aren’t ongoing and that progress isn’t made daily misses another aspect of the title. No one gets “thanks” or the reply of “you’re welcome” if we don’t actually work together and stay honest. I think that is happening and can continue to happen. I think there are still obstacles to be overcome and in closing I think we shall….