Sorry Ta-Nehisi Coates, The NAACP’s Reparations Plan Looks Exactly Like What Bernie Sanders Is Proposing

Sorry Ta-Nehisi Coates, The NAACP’s Reparations Plan Looks Exactly Like What Bernie Sanders Is Proposing
February 03 18:47 2016 Print This Article

by Yvette Carnell

In a thinly disguised attempt to generate distrust of Bernie Sanders among black voters, Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic took Sanders to task for supporting redistribution of wealth instead of reparations.

The main problem with Coates’ piece, however, was the glaring omission of specifics. Even in Coates’ lauded essay on reparations, the writer ended with more of a whimper than an instructive bang: He called for the passage of a bill to merely study reparations. Shrug.

If Coates had delved into the meat of the issue with the intellectual ferocity required of a Genius Award recipient, he might not have written the first or second Sanders hit piece.

“This is not a class divide, but a racist divide. Mainstream liberal policy proposes to address this divide without actually targeting it, to solve a problem through category error,” wrote Coates in Bernie Sanders and the Liberal Imagination.

Actually, racism is employed as a tool of capitalism to construct a hierarchy where blacks are on the bottom of the economic ladder. In that sense, racism is a deliberate wedge used to create a class divide.

The question, though, is how do we address this divide? Do Coates and his hangers-on propose that the U.S. government hand out $50,000 checks to all descendants of African slaves? I wouldn’t turn that down, but I understand that a one-time payment wouldn’t do anything to lift poor black people out of poverty.

Could the people in Flint pool their one time payments to repair the city’s water infrastructure? Could the citizens in Baltimore combine their checks and build factories to provide jobs to all citizens? Of course not. They’d most likely end up putting that money right back into the capitalist system that’s exploiting them in the first place. And even if they saved every penny, which is unlikely since poor people have urgent needs, it wouldn’t be enough to pay for the massive infrastructure and welfare investments required to protect people from the booms and busts of capitalism. That requires universal health care, a dramatic reduction in the cost of getting a college education, infrastructure investments, and a massive investment in this country’s dwindling safety net.

Coates may not understand this, but the NAACP’s renewed call for reparations seemed to echo what Sanders outlined in his comments about redistribution.

Here’s what Sanders argued on behalf of when asked about reparations:

..what we should be talking about is making massive investments in rebuilding our cities, in creating millions of decent paying jobs, in making public colleges and universities tuition-free, basically targeting our federal resources to the areas where it is needed the most and where it is needed the most is in impoverished communities, often African American and Latino.

And here’s the NAACP’s plan:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP call upon the United States Government and several foreign countries which participated in or benefited from the African slave trade countries to make such investments to improve the conditions of 2010 African-Americans through better schools, health clinics, job training, environmental cleanup of landfills, and other such environmental injustice to allow the people of color damaged by slavery’s policies to develop the health and economic standards of the entire country.

Both the NAACP and Sanders are advocating for a massive transfer of wealth to poor communities. The kind of money required to pull people out of poverty must come from the government in the form of continued and consistent investments, not just a one time payment.

African-Americans are owed a debt, but the question being asked now is what form of payment should we seek. A material benefit is a material benefit, regardless of whether you call it reparations or redistribution. Coates seems more interested in the cathartic effect of getting a reparations check rather than the long term benefit of massive redistribution from the top to the bottom that factors in race. That’s not a failure of Bernie Sanders or the liberal imagination. This isn’t a failure of imagination at all. It’s a failure to do basic math.

A YouGov poll found that only six percent of white Americans favor reparations in the form of a cash payment to African-Americans, while only 19 percent favor reparations in the form of education and job training.

Coates would have us believe that reparations is just as feasible as universal health care. In Why Precisely Is Sanders Against Reparations, he writes:

Considering Sanders’s proposal for single-payer health care, Paul Krugman asks, “Is there any realistic prospect that a drastic overhaul could be enacted any time soon—say, in the next eight years? No.”

Again, Coates gets it wrong. When asked by Gallup in 2015 whether the federal government has a responsibility to ensure that Americans have health care coverage, 51 percent of those polled answered yes. This is actually down from 69 percent approval in late 2006. Would Coates have us believe that an idea with majority support is the equivalent to an idea with almost no support among the majority demographic in this country? There is a lot of work to be done to convince all Americans that reparations is essential to the survival of African-Americans. I’m in favor of doing it, but I know that the road is long and arduous in this regard.

The problem here isn’t that one candidate lacks imagination. It’s that this country’s foremost writer on the issue of race lacks a calculator.

 

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32 comments
anthony4422
anthony4422

There aint no White Santa Claus (whether Bernie or Hillary) coming to our parts of town with massive checks or redistribution of wealth transfers.  Hillary will just appoint a few token Blacks in key positions to give the impression of progress being made.  Bernie, even if he was sincere, doesn't stand a chance in getting congress to redistribute any significant wealth to our neighborhoods.  And even if there were investments ,If you invest in infrastructure, there will be white faces building the edifices, white contractors doing the consulting, white businesses supplying the goods and providing the services etc etc.


The sooner we (Black people) realize that nation building has to come from within (even if you have to start small), then and only then, will Black power be leveraged in such a way to compound that into something bigger, and stronger.  Waiting for Y. T. to take from his tribe and give to you, is, foolish thinking at best.


We already know that Hillary is a wolf in sheep's clothing, let's see what happens with Colonel Sanders if his bid for the nomination comes to an end.  If he endorses Hillary, that tells me that he is (and always was) down with the establishment.  If he takes a stand and does not endorse her, then perhaps he may have been sincere.  We will see.

Johnw11
Johnw11

@jtabiade  With all due respect; no one has said Coates cannot critique Sanders. For one to say that Sanders, or anyone else, cannot be disagreed with (as long as it is principled and rooted in objective fact) would be too obtuse to warrant a response from a serious person. What has been said (which Coates apparently heard, hence his luke warm turn-around) is that his accusing Sanders of not supporting reparations was hypocritical since he did not voice  the same criticism of the other dozen or so candidates. It was further said, and I agree, that Sanders offers a socio-economic policy from which Blacks can benefit, while those Coates did not criticize -- at least with the same vehemence he did Sanders-- offer nothing to anyone except their Wall-Street sponsors.

I criticized Coates below, not only for his unprincipled, politically naïve criticism of Sanders, but his intellectual sophistry as well. In addition to my criticism of Coates fake intellectualism, ScottyReid1 below also called him out expertly for his intellectual shucking and jiving, playing aloft with the truth.

For me, when I read his Black Family and Mass Incarceration piece, I knew right away that he didn't know what he was talking about. That does not mean that much of what he wrote was not true, it was. What gave him away was his failure to contextualize what he was trying to say and his internal contradictions, salient in writers with an ulterior agenda trying to explain subjects where they have no formal training via tautology.

Compare his piece on the subject with Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the age of Colorblindness." Right away, it becomes clear that she is a trained attorney and scholar with personal knowledge about the subject, while Coates is simply using a catchy subject matter to obfuscate, and win another white supremacist award.

Lastly, what kind of "expert" would expect a candidate for national office to come out publicly in support of reparations? That should tell you all you need to know about the charlatan right there.

Johnw11
Johnw11

Ta-Nehisi Coates is an intellectual finagler. He uses elongated prose wrapped in a façade of "Blackness" to disguise who he's actually working for: right-wing and fake leftist-feminist white supremacists. And he's no scholar either.

His singling out Bernie Sanders -- out of over a dozen presidential candidates -- shows that he, like much of the Black mis-leadership class, is wedded to the right-wing, neocon, neoliberal, anti-Black candidacy of Hillary Clinton. While Sanders' socio-economic policies offer the best prospect of pain-relief for African Americans, Clinton's offer more of the same old same old.

Reparations are due Blacks. But reparations will not come from a political campaign. Primarily, because any candidate daring to utter support for reparations won't get pass the dugout -- let alone first base. Reparations will come when a critical mass of Blacks demand justice in that regard.

Coates' intellectual sophistry is evidenced in his Atlantic article "The Black Family in the age of Mass Incarceration." Here Coates, while attempting to chronicle the racist Patrick Moynihan's evolution from friend of "saving" the Black family --- at least the patriarchal Black family system-- to an outright racist who spoke vilely against Blacks, never seems to 'get it' that Moynihan was never a friend of the Black family. What Moynihan presented in 1965 (in attempted secrecy), "The Negro Family: The case for Action," was not a blueprint for saving the Black family. Rather, it was a blueprint for destroying it. It does not take a genius  (or social scientist) to know that without jobs, men cannot head households. 

In fact, according to the data, in the early to mid 1960s there was no defined crisis in the Black family. Over 92% of all adult Black men were married. It was only after Moynihan's policy paper (1965), arguing that if poor Black men were not given jobs the Black system family would be destroyed that Black men began losing jobs in the countless thousands. After that, jobs disappeared for Black men via urban deindustrialization. Initially, deindustrialization was government sponsored. (The neoliberal dynamic of job offshoring came later.) Perhaps this is what Coates meant, but doesn't understand, by Moynihan's belief in "the marriage of government and social science to formulate policy."

The fact that Coates received a $625,000 MacArthur Foundation grant for being a "genius," infers that white supremacy believes that his fake Black prose is fooling Black readers. But Coates is not fooling everyone. I, for one, noted his little fatuous remark accusing Moynihan's emphasis on the importance of Black patriarchy (male headed households) as "propping up an order in which women were bound to men by a paycheck, in which 'family' still meant the right of a husband to rape his wife... and intramarital violence," etc., etc.

That's Coates's deranged understanding of the Black family system (an institution wherein husbands rape wives). We can look for him to win many more awards.



Watchful
Watchful

@Johnw11


"Reparations will come when a critical mass of Blacks demand justice in that regard."


Exactly, John ... good to see u back posting again, my friend. 

Johnw11
Johnw11

@Watchful 

Thank you. It's good to talk to you as well. I was upset because I was not given a fair chance to defend ancestral Queen Frances Cress Welsing, M.D.

The mourning period is over now.

In terms of this discussion, I was highly impressed by shakiazalchemy's critical thinking below, which precisely expressed my reason for supporting Sanders.

"We need Sanders to bring some resources to the hood in the form of schools and infrastructure, etc. Once we get some relief, we might be able to sit for five minutes and figure out what kind of repair would serve us."

And that's the bottom line.

Watchful
Watchful

@Johnw11 


Yeah, I remember u had issues concerning Queen Mother Dr.Welsing (may she Rest In Peace & Power) during our last discussion. 


U already know my position on Mr.Sanders and voting so no need for me to rehash all that. That said, I respect ur convictions concerning the electoral process. More importantly, I'm just glad to once again be able to have u share ur input and insight on this platform ... it was sorely missed during ur brief hiatus. : )

Johnw11
Johnw11

@Watchful 

Thank you.

Yes, I know you have given up on the electoral process. Whether you know it or not, your position on the matter is not significantly different from mine. However, there comes a time when one must take a practical chance. I think Sanders is the time to do so.

When I look at the level of socio-economic suffering African Americans are experiencing, I cannot responsibly not participate in a process that stands a good chance of ending that suffering.

What is the time it takes to vote going to cost me? Or you?

Even if Sanders wins, and doesn't keep his promises (which he has been making for over 40 years) the fact that he would have stopped that racist, Wall-Street owned, stealing earthquake relief money from Haiti and putting her brother in charge of mining (strong armed taking) Haiti's gold, Hillary would be one good thing.

Please, don't get me started.

The sad part is hearing Blacks, the group she has abused the most, bragging about voting for her due to stark IGNORANCE and criticizing Sanders by fanatically repeating Hillary's kindergarten level talking points.

She is depending on the ignorance of her victims to achieve electoral success, while promising them nothing.

Watchful
Watchful

@Johnw11 


Well, I greatly differ with u on the notion that the process has a 'good' chance of ending that suffering. The way I see it, the process was designed to reinforce that suffering and I don't believe Sanders, or any of the other candidates, for that matter, would make a bit of difference in that regard. Of course, u already know how I feel about the Clintons, so I won't even bother addressing her. But, the blks that choose to support her aren't any worse than the outright lunatic blks that r actually advocating support for Trump. To be honest, I'm beginning to think alotta blk folks have completely lost their minds, but I suppose it's to be expected given the insane times we seem to currently be living in. 

Johnw11
Johnw11

@Watchful 

So, you're saying that -- as an "enlightened cynic" --- the possibility is not worth the time it takes to cast a vote?

Watchful
Watchful

@Johnw11 


Actually, John ... I don't even believe there is any real possibility to begin with. 


Oh, and BTW, I would prefer 'endarkened cynic' since endarkened was a term Dr.Welsing also seemed to prefer. : )

Johnw11
Johnw11

@Watchful 

So, you are saying as an "endarkened cynic"  that all is hopeless? And that is what Dr. Welsing believed?

Watchful
Watchful

@Johnw11 


Now c'mon, John ... let's not twist my words. I didn't say that's what Dr.Welsing believed ... I said that she preferred to use the term 'endarkened' instead of 'enlightened'. As far as I know, she believed in voting ... but, that's one issue on which she and I differed. 


Also, I wouldn't go so far as to say that all is hopeless, but I certainly have lil to no hope that the electoral process will be an effective tool towards the liberation of our ppl. It certainly hasn't proven to be since we were granted the right to vote some 50 odd years ago. 

Johnw11
Johnw11

@Watchful One doesn't "vote" for liberation. One votes for the socio-economic-political and legalistic policies that will improve their quality of life.

For example, it was a political decision made by people elected to office to switch the water supply in Flint, Mich. from Lake Huron to the Flint River. A diabolic decision violative of all notions of human decency. Consequently, many thousands of people (mostly Blacks) have been poisoned. Thousands of children have been poisoned by intellectually inhibiting lead acquired from the water that experts have long argued was unfit for not only human, but even animal and plant consumption.

The governor, Snyder, was in office to make that decision at the behest of the rich because many people had given up. They rationalized that no matter what, the cause was lost. Taking advantage of their "learned helplessness," employees of the rich (posing as elected officials) imposed their will on them. Indeed, decades before poisoning the water, they'd already imposed economic sanctions on Flint, Detroit, and communities across the country, by legislating job losses via industrial off-shoring.  Consequently, leading to the prevention of patriarchal family formation, and causing other forms of community destabilization.

The sad part is that there are enough people (perhaps Blacks alone) to have prevented Snyder's election had they not succumbed to "learned helplessness" and voted instead. If they had done so, he would never have been in office in the first place to override (extra constitutionally, many argue) their votes against his "emergency manager" privatization (austerity) -- taking from the poor and giving to the rich -- scheme.

Voting is not about "liberation," per se, in one fell-swoop, it is about fighting for socio-economic--political and legalistic policies that improve the quality of people's lives.

Watchful
Watchful

@Johnw11 


U're right, voting isn't about liberation which is exactly y I stopped participating in that process 30 years ago. And as far as voting for socio-economic-political and legalistic policies that will improve quality of life, it's pretty obvious to me at least, that it's been a massive failure to this point in time. But, hey ... like I've said b4 I respect ur convictions as pertains to the efficacy of voting as a means to positively effect policy, I simply don't share them.

TinaSue
TinaSue

@Johnw11 @Watchful Lots of people get discouraged with the polical process.  Even when you elect a Black (like the Kirkpatrick man in Detroit), they disappoint.  Where is Kirkpartick now ? (sitting in jail).

Johnw11
Johnw11

@TinaSue @Watchful  You, Watchful, and I have had many discussions. Both of you, and everyone else as well, know where I stand.

I am fully aware of voter apathy (discontent) and the reasons for it. All I'm saying is that people absolutely get nothing without trying but what they don't want and what's not good for them.

Kilpatrick being in jail, many people believe unjustly, while the governor, Snyder, who has poisoned a whole city of thousands of people (intellectually maiming children for life) not being in jail is the very reason why people should get involved. Snyder was elected because more people voted for him than against him. That's because too many people who didn't want him didn't vote. Instead, they succumbed to "learned helplessness." 

Every two or four years, there are elections. If an office holder has not served the needs of those who elected him / her, then they should vote them out. After a while, they'll get the message.

But this doesn't happen when people give up. 

Watchful
Watchful

@TinaSue 


It's not even really that I'm discouraged, Tina ... it's that I long ago came to the realization that the electoral process is ineffective at best, and possibly even detrimental at worst, in that it keeps many of our ppl hanging on to false hope. I mean, even when we do manage to vote in a conscious person to office who is committed to fight to put in place policies that  specifically benefit our ppl, they're either eventually forced out, like a Cynthia McKinney(Georgia), or they're murdered, like a Harold Washington(Chicago) or a Chokwe Lumumba(Mississippi). The rest r usually bought off or they're rendered politically impotent by a system that is ultimately corrupt and racist to its very core. To me, It becomes a futile effort, one that I can neither, in good conscience, believe in or participate in.

BlackheywoodHeywood
BlackheywoodHeywood

No-one said Natives, Japanese nor Jewish Holocaust survivor did not need monetary reparations. No one said we must build up everyone else to pay Natives, Japanese or Jews as part of any form reparations. What is the difference between those groups and Black Americans receiving monetary reparations. America wasn't discriminating against all other groups they did so only to Black Americans, so why should we receive any so -called "redistribution of wealth" that includes all others and as usual Black Americans would benefit the least. Give us a check with TAX FREE status and let us make choices for ourselves as all others were allowed to. Anything else is still a form of control and paternalism which is nothing more than racism.

KeithRollins
KeithRollins

We need massive infrastructure development in the black community, rather than a one-time reparations payment. I hope Ta-nehisi Coates is not comprising.

TinaSue
TinaSue

We will never get reparations as long as racisim exists.  I'm not hopeful.  America can preach morality to other countries; but there's one thing America will never do:  Acknowledge the injustice and damage they committed against Black Americans.  

The least this country could do is give all descendants of American Slavery a free college education.  

BESPECIFIC
BESPECIFIC

The biggest problem with reparations is that no one is actually saying what they would be. It's either money or physical property. So.....what exactly is being asked for?


There is no problem saying reparations are needed, they most certainly could be. The problem is that if you ask one person what they want, it might be just an official apology. Ask another, they may say that every descendant should get 10 million dollars, regardless of current status. How about this, there are plenty of people who look hispanic, chinese, even white. Do they get a piece of it simply because they are 1/10th slave descendent? How do you think african americans would react if a significant chunk of hispanic folks can say they are descendents? What about a white racist souther baptist biggot who is actually half african american and he gets a 50% share of 10 million dollars? Think that would go over well?


Instead of bitching about NOT talking about them, how about saying what is being asked for. Lay out what you would like, shop that around, see how it goes. The way this is being done is the same as saying "we want free pizza" but not specifying that you only want it on Tuesdays', after the parade. 


Stop saying "REPARATIONS NEEDED" and start saying specifically what you are looking for. The folks screaming for reparations will be absolutely shocked when people start picking apart how ineffective any ACTUAL reparations would actually be. As in, after all the dilution, reparations could be $2 each. Is that what they want? 


Again, no problem with it, just be specific. Otherwise, they are just the same as those saying "GET RID OF OBAMACARE" without having a plan to replace it.

4agewise
4agewise

@BESPECIFIC To be specific, the powers that be have figured this out and/or have access to the information from people that have.  In fact, I remember reading about, a man whom proposed the exacts a long time ago.  I believe that's where the term "40 acres and a mule" came into play.  They stall and sabotaged the efforts.  Even now you and others ask these questions, as if, there are not working models that exist today.

To be specific, we can use reparations for poor, lower wage earning, and barely making it lower to middle class earning  "Americans of African decent that can not pass for so called "White" or "any other race"  The rest only need "real" protection, enforced equal opportunity, or a freedom such as diplomatic immunity.

To be specific "Jewish people" don't have to read this nonsense when it comes to their people getting their reparations.  

Specifically, the examples of how and the answers to the "W's" already exist.  

If "American's of African decent that can not pass for White or any other race" are to have reparations, more than reparations have to happen to ensure the working models can work for us. "Americans of African decent that can not pass for White or any other race".     



SKG360
SKG360

Both the B.Sanders and NAACP plans are gentrification on steroids with dash of bath salts.Where in America has the metro area infrastructure been updated, schools built and even new housing erected and white people have NOT taken over the area?There’s no way that black people could stop this gentrification effect from happening w/o access to massive amounts of capital.

At the bare minimum, do the B. Sanders and NAACP “redistribution” plans guarantee that certain percentage of the construction contracts will be awarded to black (not minorities, hump backs, gays,trans, etc.) contractors? If so, how much?

jtabiade
jtabiade

Is it possible to cast a vote for a candidate and not agree with some of his/her positions? Why does it have to be an either/or situation? One can accept Mr. Coates critique of Sanders and still vote for Sanders. Don't expect anything from a candidate if you deem them above criticism. Lastly, Coates has also criticized Hillary Clinton for her views on race:http://www.theatlantic.com/.../hillary-clinton.../427095/ 

Rick Manigault
Rick Manigault

@jtabiade Coates criticism is meant to tar Sanders as a racist and bolster Hillary as a reparations supporter looking out for blacks. The biggest lie in the world is the idea that this is a sincere debate. Black people who know better like Coates are using this debate to fool uninformed black voters. 

Rick Manigault
Rick Manigault

@jtabiade Hillary was on board with prison profiteering and it's acceptable in dnc circles to acknowledge her folly.


Coates article is part of a concerted effort to make Hillary black and any opposition to her is somehow race based, you heard about the SC firewall? I have seen desperate attempts since this summer to call those white Bernie Sanders supporters Klansman who wont let black people into the rallies, this article by Coates is a continuation of that and the endgame is to keep black people on the reservation. 

shakirazalchemy
shakirazalchemy

Finally. A thoughtful response to the Coates hit piece. I too was disappointed but not so much because of his thin prescription for Reparations but more because I felt he hijacked our best hope for a president that might help us move the bar closer to OUR OWN acknowledgement of a need for Reparations. Why ask a leader to take on our fight when that leader in particular has watched Cong. John Congers introduce HR 40 to Study Reparations every year for the past 25 yrs and the bill never gets out of committee because NONE of US are walking the Halls to lobby their Reps to pass it? That's what the Japanese did to get their Reparations for time spent in internment camps. That's probably what Jews did to get Germany to pay for their holocaust. Why should anyone take the forefront for our battle?

And I don't think we have taken it on because we are in such bad shape after nearly 40 yrs of trickle down economics. We need Sanders to bring some resources to the hood in the form of schools and infrastructure, etc. Once we get some relief, we might be able to sit for five minutes and figure out what kind of repair would best serve us.

sonsofnatturner
sonsofnatturner

How can you be so obtuse as to not be able to see the false argument you are making? The reason the so-called reparations plan of the NAACP and Bernie Sanders are the same is because the NAACP is a sellout organization that relies on the largess of the white establishment so much so that it’s too afraid to stop referring to its constituents as Colored. If anyone should be sorry for a lack of intellect it's you not Ta-Nehisi Coates.

ScottyReid1
ScottyReid1

@sonsofnatturner  And Coates is not? He writes for a white-owned publication and in one of the pieces mentioned he claimed that Abraham Lincoln died because he was a abolitionist and for freeing Black people. Nothing could be further from the truth and how a self-professed anti-racist who speaks on white supremacy, how in the hell does he fix his mouth to give false praise to one of the most deceptive white supremacist, the admitted white supremacist Abraham Lincoln. 

How gave this non-genius a half-million dollar genius award? White people did so he can continue to confuse non-white people with straw man arguments.

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