An enslaved mind in the midst
As I write this blog post I am so upset that I am shaking. I normally do not write when I am upset but in this case I want the carnality of my anger to be present to aid in the development of my thoughts not from a compromising point of view but from one that excoriates someone who should know better. In this case it is important.
I feel for Ta-Nehisi Coates as he had to be composed to sit next to Shelby Steele, a man whose mind is still enslaved, a man who is a slave to an imposed ideology. One could see the utter disbelief on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ that any man, let alone a Black man would say what Shelby Steele said.
Anyone who is really interested in ascertaining the real reason for the state of a large percentage of Black Americans in the aggregate must read Ta-nehisi Coates’ article in the Atlantic titled “The Case for Reparations” before ever attempting to understand what ails the Black underclass and a percentage of the Black family. These ills did not occur in a some vacuum or because of some innate moral or genetic flaw. It was all conditioned.
Ta-nehisi Coates as he did in his Atlantic case made a compelling case for reparations. It was premised not only on the fact of centuries of free labor that built America but on specific policies like redlining, the GI Bill, and mortgage support. These not only disadvantaged Blacks but disproportionately extracted realized and unrealized wealth. Worse, because Blacks paid a premium for services and had to work harder for the same it was partly causal in the destruction of the family and in some instances the moral fabric of the community. Overworked parents do not lend themselves to very well supervised children either.
Shelby Steele attempted to attribute many of the problems in the Black community to White liberals who created a culture of dependency. To be clear, there is no more dependency in socio-economically aggrieved Black communities than their is in socio-economically aggrieved white Appalachian or rural communities. Because of history as a percentage of a particular population it is greater in the Black community. While it is true that ill-designed welfare programs have been a detriment to poor families (e.g., a man in the home affecting compensation), fixing as opposed to eliminating has always been the humane thing to do.
The most shocking statement from Shelby Steele occurred when George Stephanopoulos asked if government action is not the answer to solve the structural wealth disparity between Blacks and Whites what is. “You don’t close it,” said Shelby Steele. “You don’t do anything. You leave it alone. You practice as best as possible a discipline of freedom where your struggle is not for some sort of advantage. But your struggle is for freedom itself. That’s what you do.”
Ta-nehisi Coates watched in disbelief as Steele showed America that his mind was still in fact enslaved. He is resigned to accept having been raped economically. “I am sorry,” said Ta-nehisi Coates. “That is completely untenable. The gap you are talking about, for every five cents in wealth that African Americans have, White families have a dollar in wealth. It’s a twenty to one gap. That gap didn’t get there by magic. That gap is the result of housing policy that we had in this country and a long long policy of taking wealth out of African American communities and putting them elsewhere. It had real consequences.”
To be clear, I personally am not for reparations for me. After-all my slave ship landed in the Caribbean that ultimately got me to Panama. Moreover many Black people in the America’s have been able to go against the grain of systemic racism and wealth extraction. But for many throughout the Americas, from the United States, to Brazil, to Colombia, to Venezuela, to Central American, to the Caribbean Islands, and beyond the wealth gap and conditions of Blacks warrant some sort of reparation in some form.
Reparation does not mean giving a welfare check to someone. It means creating programs that allow those who do not have the means (likely because of systemic policies as described) the ability to get an education and a hand up. Who pays? Not the American middle-class or the poor. The Plutocracy, that built its wealth on the free labor that owns most of America’s wealth pays. The composite growth of that wealth occurred on the backs of many.
Here is a thought. The American Plutocracy’s extraction has now reached more than those others. It is now affecting the entire middle-class. Hopefully if empathy is not sufficient to allow some to understand the results of the Plutocracy’s wealth extraction from those other people, reality will allow most to see the light.
It sickens me that Shelby Steele has allowed the plutocracy to use him as a mentally enslaved pawn to provide some sort of legitimacy to the argument that ill-gotten gains need not be paid back. The Japanese received reparations from America. The Jews received reparationsfrom the Germans. The enslavement of blacks and wealth extracted over the centuries far exceed the immense suffering of the Japanese internment and the Jewish holocaust.