In his cover story for The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates lays out a historical retrospective of institutional racism in American history.
In an interview with Fusion’s Alicia Menendez, Coates responded to his critics, some of whom claim Coates is only reiterating a national conversation about race that already occurs on a day-to-day basis.
“We do talk about race all the time,” Coates said. “We don’t talk about racism and the force of racism in American history all the time. It’s one of the hardest things for people to get….racism and white supremacy in particular is foundational to America. Without white supremacy, without racism, there really is no America.”
Coates identified a few particular moments in American history where racism persisted and marginalized African-Americans.
“America is a country where in the 20th century, there were senators openly calling for lynchings to prevent black people from voting. America is a country where there were states in the South, like Mississippi, where the majority of people living there could not vote even though they were supposed to,” Coates said. “For some reason we have this notion that we could have this history for 350 years, and then after 50 years of relatively halfhearted measures of attempting to correct for it, it would go away.”
Credit: Victoria Moreno, Cleo Stiller and Bianca Perez