150 Years: Ta-Nehisi Coates On Post-Emancipation Proclamation America
In an interview given before the talk, Coates explained that despite having made great strides forward, there are still underlying issues in social policy that need to be addressed in the country. There are more opportunities for black Americans today than in the 1800s, but the "ghosts" of social policies that reinforce the degradation of non-white citizens still linger today. The best way to combat these issues, Coates says, is to fight policy with policy.
In the interview, and in his highly regarded talks, Coates tells us that we have to be our own custodians for change. We have start the conversation as citizens before we can expect those in power to rework policy. What advice does he give to those looking to be leaders in driving this conversation forward? "Do your best to educate yourself," he says in the interview. "That sounds like a small thing—but it is not a small thing." Not only that, but Coates says that "this is about a trans-generational struggle. It happens with small, hard, steps with a lot of failure in between." We can't expect everything to change overnight, he tells us, but we also can't discount the small victories we achieve along the way.