Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Letter To My Son, from Between the World and Me

 A powerful premise: White Americans, regardless of ideology, can only invest in the lie of abstraction and false transcendence.

  • Slavery was a long time ago, and even though the nation's economy was built by slavery. I wasn't alive then, and I don't really benefit from the brutal conditions that human bondage imposed on black people.
  • Not all slaves were mistreated.
  • The Civil War was fought for states rights, not to preserve slavery as the economic engine of the south. 
  • Blacks have made many advances in American society and will only keep advancing until they achieve full equality with whites.
  • Whites are more enlightened as a result of the black people's struggle—whites have evolved beyond the prejudices our 18-19th century ancestors.
All bullshit.

The extremely white (and awful) David Brooks felt compelled to whitesplain.
 I read this all like a slap and a revelation. I suppose the first obligation is to sit with it, to make sure the testimony is respected and sinks in. But I have to ask, Am I displaying my privilege if I disagree? Is my job just to respect your experience and accept your conclusions? Does a white person have standing to respond?

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