“However, I believe that racial considerations, whether fully conscious or not, might also be found on the other side of the issue, helping to explain why our national leadership today so uniformly endorses very heavy foreign immigration. America’s ruling financial, media, and political elites are largely concentrated in three major urban centers—New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, .—and all three have contained large black populations, including a violent underclass. During the early 1990s, many observers feared New York City was headed for urban collapse due to its enormously high crime rates, Los Angeles experienced the massive and deadly Rodney King Riots, and Washington often vied for the title of American homicide capital. In each city, the violence and crime were overwhelmingly committed by black males, and although white elites were rarely the victims, their fears were quite palpable.
Ta-Nehisi Coates has another very long essay in The Atlantic , this one titled, “ The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration. ” He doesn’t really dispute that strong family structure is important; he just says that it’s not important enough to counteract all the institutionalized racism that African Americans face (like housing segregation, the focus of his reparations essay). As for crime, he views any crime-fighting that has a disparate impact on the basis of race as presumptively racist, and he concludes with a strong hint that reparations may therefore be in order (the new essay’s last link is to his earlier long essay on that topic). But there are plenty of non-racist reasons for being against crime, and, Coates’s cherry-picking to the contrary notwithstanding, there is plenty of evidence that those opposing crime have generally done so for those non-racist reasons. Finally, reparations would not be a logical response to any racism in our criminal-justice system, since (1) most African Americans have not been in the criminal-justice system, and (2) most who have been cannot blame racism.