As I listened to renowned journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates discuss violence within African American communities, I couldn’t help but be draw by his words.”Something will happen…it is mathematically certain,” he stated as he addresses the Bucknell community. The deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner were terrible but expected. This is not new violence in African American communities, but “a lot of recent actions over the past year have caused people to pay attention.”
Coates’ article Case for Reparations (2014) both surprised me and made logical sense. Having taken a modern day racism class with Professor Hilbourne Watson two years ago, I have been aware of racism embedded in our society through cultural and social norms. Listening to Mr. Coates words on the biased American housing system created in the 1930s places perspective into how our society is shaped. The redlining policies created almost a century ago still affect us today.
“Does anyone know how wealth is accumulated in this country?” he asked. For many Americans their greatest assets are their homes. When we have a system that is biased towards African American homeownership it is difficult for the black community to generate wealth. I felt uneasy as he described how blacks are lowest point on most sock-economic issues from education, poverty, violence. This is not by accident. The economic and social laws have perpetuated racism in modern society and until we realize this and take responsibility as a society we will never heal. Accepting the issues are still prevalent in society is the first step for most Americans.