In a 1967 speech , the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “It didn’t cost the nation anything to integrate lunch counters. It didn’t cost the nation anything to integrate hotels and motels. It didn’t cost the nation a penny to guarantee the right to vote. Now we are in a period where it will cost
In a 1967 speech, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “It didn’t cost the nation anything to integrate lunch counters. It didn’t cost the nation anything to integrate hotels and motels. It didn’t cost the nation a penny to guarantee the right to vote. Now we are in a period where it will cost the nation billions of dollars to get rid of poverty, to get rid of slums, to make quality integrated education a reality. This is where we are now. The fact is that there has never been any single, solid, determined commitment on the part of the vast majority of white Americans to genuine equality for Negroes.”
In this week’s outstanding lead article, “What Is Owed,” Nikole Hannah-Jones, a self-identified pessimist, acknowledges that this current moment, 50-plus years later, offers a genuine opportunity for change. Employing extensive evidence from American history, Ms. Hannah-Jones convincingly makes the case that the United States barred Black Americans from opportunities to acquire the wealth necessary to achieve economic justice, while simultaneously advantaging white Americans. The logical next step, she argues, is for the federal government to pay reparations to Black Americans.
Loyal readers, if you can, please make time to read this important essay. I highly recommend it. If it moves you, or if you want to talk about it, hit reply and share your thoughts with me.
As always, thank you for your readership, and I hope that you find value in all four pieces in this week’s issue. Please enjoy!
Nikole Hannah-Jones: “If Black lives are to truly matter in America, this nation must move beyond slogans and symbolism. Citizens don’t inherit just the glory of their nation, but its wrongs too. A truly great country does not ignore or excuse its sins. It confronts them and then works to make them right. If we are to be redeemed, if we are to live up to the magnificent ideals upon which we were founded, we must do what is just. It is time for this country to pay its debt. It is time for reparations.” (39 min)
+ Listen to Ms. Hannah-Jones talk about her essay on Fresh Air. (47 min)
Elizabeth Alexander: “My sons love to dance. I have raised them to young adulthood. They are beautiful. They are funny. They are strong. They are fascinating. They are kind. They are joyful in friendship and community. They are righteous and smart in their politics. They are learning. They are loving. They are mighty and alive. Yes, I am saying I measure my success as a mother of Black boys in part by the fact that I have sons who love to dance, who dance in community, who dance till their powerful bodies sweat, who dance and laugh, who dance and shout.” (13 min)
+ Thank you to loyal reader Phillip for suggesting this article.
Growing up in the Bay Area in the 1980s, Johann Neem felt like there was space for him as an American without giving up his Indian background. “I imagined that I could become anybody. The American Dream was alive,” he writes. But in the past 30 years, Prof. Neem argues, the United States has seen a transformation in which the riches of the country have been afforded not to all Americans but rather to its white members only. This change led Prof. Neem to feel like he was “unbecoming American” and “losing his country.” (30 min)
In South Texas, students at Edinburg North High School don’t aspire to play underneath the Friday night lights. Instead, they desire a spot on Mariachi Oro, reigning champions at the Texas State Mariachi Festival. Follow Nathan Fernandez and his bandmates in this delightful Pop-Up Magazine film, produced and directed by Alejandra Vasquez. The music is joyful, the young people are heartwarming, and the expectations are high. Like me, you’ll want to join mariachi, too. (13 min)
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