Ta-Nehisi Coates Hits Back At McConnell Dismissing Slavery Reparations

Congressional Quarterly/CQ-Roll Call Group

Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates hit back at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Wednesday over McConnell’s stated reason for opposing slavery reparations: That slavery ended 150 years ago and America had a black president.

The Senate majority leader argued on Tuesday that reparations for “something that happened 150 years ago” isn’t a good idea.

“We’ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We elected an African-American president,” McConnell said. “I think we’re always a work in progress in this country, but no one currently alive was responsible for that and I don’t think we should be trying to figure out how to compensate for it.”

Coates, author of the essay “The Case for Reparations,” pointed out on Wednesday that while McConnell may not have been alive during the transatlantic slave trade, the 77-year-old GOP leader was certainly alive during the consequences of it.

Speaking in front of a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on a reparations bill, Coates said that the “many heirs” of the slavery institution, such as Jim Crow and redlining, existed both before and after McConnell was born.

“Majority Leader McConnell cited civil rights legislation yesterday, as well he should, because he was alive to witness the harassment, jailing and betrayal of those responsible for that legislation by a government sworn to protect them,” said Coates.

“He was alive for the redlining of Chicago and the looting of black homeowners of some $4 billion. Victims of that plunder are very much alive today,” he continued. “I am sure they’d love a word with the majority leader.”

H.R 40, the bill under discussion, would create a commission to analyze the institutionalized racism that resulted from slavery and decide how the government can properly atone for the consequences of racism to black Americans.

Watch part of Coates’ remarks below:

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