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"Ta-Nehisi Coates" by David Shankbone licensed under CC 2.0.

Racism still lives.

That’s at least according to Ta-Nehisi Coates, who came to campus on Tuesday to discuss the extent of racial discrimination and white supremacy in America today. The 39-year-old correspondent for The Atlantic presented his controversial argument, “The Case for Reparations,” which first appeared as a cover article in The Atlantic.

During Coates’ interview with Penn history and sociology professor Thomas Sugrue, he argued that white supremacy prevents blacks from achieving equality. Much of Coates’ argument is focused on the idea that white supremacy is not a fact, but an ideal in American society that needs to be changed. As described in his articles, memoir and interviews, Coates wants America to acknowledge its mistakes and make amends.

“They should say, ‘I took something from you, and that made me possible,’” he told the Penn audience.

He stated that reparations “could be a range of things.” The discriminations, wrongs and specific troubles that blacks faced has earned its proper restitution, he said, which could come in the form of money or life opportunities like job offers and college acceptances.

Still, Coates criticized affirmative action, which he argued is used by universities to support diversity rather than to make amends for past wrongs.

According to some, the passion which Coates bolsters when approaching the topic of racism is distinctive to American society. Visit ing Argentinian scholar Valeria Carbone expressed that the theorization of race, as seen with Coates’ “The Case for Reparations,” is something that she does not see in her home country.

On the contrary, Penn freshman Maya Arthur did not feel as if Coates’ opinions were foreign, and instead felt as if he had “reiterated [her] feelings.” Sophomore Camara Brown added that she appreciated how he told “history from the losing side.”

Though Coates adamantly argues for society to give African Americans reparations, in a private interview, Coates stated that the future is unclear as to whether or not the country will follow through.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” he said. “We’ll see.”

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