Coates published a piece in The Atlantic yesterday arguing that, in his stated aversion to government reparations for African-Americans, “Sanders’s radicalism has failed in the ancient fight against white supremacy.” Sanders, Coates points out, is hardly a pragmatist with regards to health care or infrastructure spending. But when it comes to reparative damages for injuries caused by racist policies like redlining, Sanders’s outsider talk of “revolution” gives way to a fairly conventional discourse about the feasibility of passing legislation.
Coates’s critique is important, even if only to understand the racial politics of coalition-building in America. Killer Mike, however, pushed back against those who took it as “some kind of death nail” in the Sanders’s candidacy. The Atlanta rapper made clear that, while he himself is vehemently in favor of reparations, he still stands behind Sanders, whom he endorsed back in November.
It’s worth reading his whole take, as well as The New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb’s poignant response to it. Then go check out the New Republic’s profile of Killer Mike, and how his outspoken political advocacy is a reflection of the times.