What is Coates trying to express about reparations and his views on reparations with this article? https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/01/tanehisi-coates-reparations/427041/

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Coates is essentially arguing against his liberal critics, two of whom (Kevin Drum and David Frum) had written against one of his previous pieces in TheAtlantic , which made a case for a committee to study the lingering effects of slavery and white supremacy with an eye toward establishing...

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Coates is essentially arguing against his liberal critics, two of whom (Kevin Drum and David Frum) had written against one of his previous pieces in The Atlantic, which made a case for a committee to study the lingering effects of slavery and white supremacy with an eye toward establishing reparations for African Americans. Coates's critics have argued that he did not present a detailed plan for reparations, and he responds, essentially, that these specifics are less important than the public reaching a consensus on the enduring ramifications of slavery:

[A]lthough studies certainly end up in the dust-bin of history all the time, without some sort of official document tallying up the specific costs of some three centuries of injury, it seems relatively useless to argue for a plan for payment.

He then makes a particularly interesting argument: namely, that the best way to make a case for reparations is to look at the lingering pervasiveness of white supremacy. In other words, the ideology that supported slavery has existed throughout American history, and is still around today. "Even if one feels that slavery was too far into the deep past (and I do not, because I view this as a continuum)," Coates writes, "the immediate past is with us." He points in particular to the way that lending and zoning practices have devastated African American neighborhoods. Unlike his critics, he thinks that most white Americans do not recognize that any of these things are really evidence of systemic injustice or white supremacy.

Finally, Coates expresses his conviction that liberal voters can be persuaded of the need for reparations. He points to such ambitious projects as universal healthcare and free college tuition as evidence. Therefore, he does not think the problem with reparations lies with their cost or with the complexities inherent in their implementation. Rather, he thinks that many whites do not understand the need for them in the first place, because they fail to comprehend, and are "incurious" about, the pervasive effects of white supremacy. An honest, informed, national conversation about reparations, he argues, is perhaps the only way people can come to recognize what most who study American history understand: the devastating effects of slavery, which continue to linger in the American present.

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In this article, Ta-Nehisi Coates's main argument is that the conversation regarding reparations is necessary and that it ought to be part of the national dialogue. He argues that the era of slavery mandated discrimination against African Americans. Coates maintains that this state of affairs continues to be augmented by present-day inequities.

So, Coates is in favor of Congress exploring the possibilities of paying reparations to the descendants of slaves. He supports Representative Bill Conyers's Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act (H.R.40). The Commission aims to discuss the effects of slavery and its impact on present-day African American citizens and to suggest appropriate remedies for the redress of grievances. 

In his article, Coates suggests that the conversation will be a difficult one. He cites the 2014 YouGov and Huffington Post polls stating that majorities of white Americans oppose reparations compensation. Although whites acknowledge the suffering of slaves, they also point to the stability and freedom present-day African Americans enjoy. 

For his part, Coates maintains that there is more to the conversation. He wants to address how past discriminatory housing policies negatively affected the advancement of African Americans after the era of slavery. Because the Federal Housing Administration refused to back home loans to African Americans from 1934 to 1968, black families were consigned to live in under-developed and undesirable neighborhoods. Coates maintains that the consequences of such disastrous red-lining policies continues to be seen in wealth discrepancies between white and black neighborhoods today.

Coates acknowledges the conflict surrounding how reparations installments to African Americans should be calculated. Despite this, he remains hopeful that the subject of reparations will continue to be part of the national conversation.

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