I initially read this article over the summer, but recently revisited it in the context of my project about gentrification. First of all, if you haven’t read it, please do! I ranks in one of the most life-changing pieces I’ve ever read and I find myself referring to it constantly. Regardless, in thinking about gentrification, I feel like I have spent a lot of time learning about people are being pushed out of their homes. I’ve read countless accounts of people being forced to leave their homes because of their inability to pay rent or faulty mortgages. However, many of these accounts fail to explore why this is and what system is in place that is allowing this to happen. Coates does just that: he outlines a history of America that has been built by African American labor, but has excluded excluded African Americans from the wealth. As he puts it, America was built on a system of “white affirmative action.” Therefore, he calls for African Americans to receive economic reparations for their work. He argues that in a country that is based on class but divided by race, reparations would help to diversify the classes. What’s important to note in the context of gentrification is that because of inadequate wealth, African Americans have been continually set up to fail–especially in homeownership.
While I do really love this piece, perhaps one major flaw in it is his failure to look at intersectionality of other marginalized voices. How do immigrants fit into this picture? How do Native Americans fit into this argument? Etc.