The speech marked his first public appearance since the magazine published "The Case for Reparations," his 15,000-word argument that structural inequality leveled against African Americans is an intentional pattern in this country's history and that reparations — damages — are due.
The first main section, detailing Clyde Ross' life through the 20th century — from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago — is a tapestry of post-slavery discrimination in America. Developing that through-line, Coates examines the history of housing inequality and the willful exclusion of black Americans from the middle class.
Here's City Club CEO Dan Moulthrop:
Here's the problem: As a nation, we're mostly afraid of what he has to say. We are afraid because what he has to say requires work. It requires caring. It requires being uncomfortable for long periods of time. It requires those of us who are white to acknowledge that regardless of our income, how hard we work, where we come from or where we live now, the color of our skin grants us privilege we're hardly aware of, even on our best days.
I agree with Coates, though; we owe it to ourselves to deeply examine the issue.