Ta-Nehisi Coates Takes on Mitch McConnell for Rejecting Reparations for Slavery

Hannah Gaber-USA Today; Mark Wilson/Getty Images

In his testimony to Congress on reparations for slavery Thursday, Ta-Nehisi Coates, the author of the 2014 Atlantic essay “The Case for Reparations,” directly rebutted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell‘s (R-Ky.) assertion that slavery was too far in the past to be repaid for.

“I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none of us currently living are responsible is a good idea,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday.

Coates called McConnell’s excuse “a familiar reply.”

“This rebuttal proffers a strange theory of governance that American accounts are somehow bound by the lifetime of its generations,” Coates said, adding that Americans, through taxes and other means, always pay for things they’re not directly linked to.

“It would seem ridiculous to dispute invocations of the founders or of the greatest generation on the basis of a lack of membership in either group,” he continued. “We recognize our lineage as a generational trust, as inheritance, and the real dilemma posed by reparations is just that: a dilemma of inheritance.”

Coates argued that America has inherited much from slavery, and the horrors against individuals who are black did not stop with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation:

“For a century after the Civil War, black people were subject to a relentless campaign of terror — a campaign that extended well into the lifetime of Majority Leader McConnell. It is tempting to divorce this modern campaign of terror, of plunder, from enslavement. But the logic of enslavement, of white supremacy, respects no such borders.”

Coates went on to point out that McConnell was alive for plenty of those horrors, from murders and tortures to legal discrimination. The author argued that black people still suffer from America’s dark past through high maternal death rates, to mass incarceration, to economic disparity.

“The question really is not whether we will be tied to the somethings of our past, but whether we are courageous enough to be tied to the whole of them,” Coates concluded.

Watch the video below:


The testimony was a part of a House subcommittee meeting to discuss HB 40, a bill introduced by  Rep. Sheila Jackson (D-Texas) in January that would “establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations.”

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40 Acres and a mule in Alaska for anyone that can ducument their claim, with the condition that they move to Alaska and occupy their land for 10 years.


Another working taxpayer hand OUT to those unable to comprehend the difference between that, an education and a JOB to advance one’s self and family. Called the “Gimme more stuff” crowd.


This hot air is ridiculous. Now they’re going after Biden.
Race, race, race. These people are self-serving race-baiters.


I’m going with the feelings of the African-Americans I KNOW. Each and every one of them thinks this demeans what they have EARNED on their OWN. PERIOD.


None of these people has ever owned, or been a slave. Time for reperations is long past..
.or, if its not too late, does my 1/64 Cherokee ancestry count toward reperations for attempted genocide?…does my 70%+ Irish ancestry count toward reperations for centuries of abuse from the English crown?…hmmm, thought not.


Hey Ta-Nehisi, how exactly will you work out reparations? Start your genealogical investigators now.

WHO exactly owes who? There are NO survivors (q.v. Roosevelt’s internment camps). Make account of black slaveholders, those who came here AFTER the slavery era, and those who’s families lost fighting for the Union, ’cause YOU owe THEM reparations.

You are just another con man asking for handouts and continuing a racial divide. Go away.


full disclosure: I’ve tried to read Ta-Nehisi, but he’s barely literate, longwinded, meandering and rarely comes to a point. Very rarely.

He’s almost like, but less entertaining, than pulp writers who were paid by the word.

His writing is as mediocre and stultifying as his thinking.

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