A simple understanding of the timeline of the oppression of African-Americans is central to any understanding of reparations, or how to fix our country. Ta-Nehisi Coates summarizes it recently:
To briefly restate it, from 1619 until at least the late 1960s, American institutions, businesses, associations, and governments—federal, state, and local—repeatedly plundered black communities. Their methods included everything from land-theft, to red-lining, to disenfranchisement, to convict-lease labor, to lynching, to enslavement, to the vending of children. So large was this plunder that America, as we know it today, is simply unimaginable without it. Its great universities were founded on it. Its early economy was built by it. Its suburbs were financed by it. Its deadliest war was the result of it.
So in the sixties, black people had less money because of explicit state-led discrimination. That gap in wealth would linger over generations in any circumstances:
#InequalityIs the enormous racial wealth gap due to racial differences in the capacity to provide gifts and inheritances across generations
— Sandy Darity (@SandyDarity) January 19, 2016
But if you add that generational weatlth gap to our particular circumstances, to new suburban development patterns, where neighborhood segregation turns into fragmented taxation, to the separation of low-income areas from manufacturing employment, and to a criminal justice system that allows lots of racially-biased discretion at various points to create vast racial disparities in history’s largest prison system, then that explains how the centuries of racial oppresion still affect us after “so long”.