Ta-Nehisi Coates Isn't Feeling The Bern, But He's Voting Bernie Sanders Anyway

The influential journalist has called the presidential candidate out on racism and reparations.
Ta-Nehisi Coates said he's voting for Bernie Sanders, though he's not officially endorsing him.
Ta-Nehisi Coates said he's voting for Bernie Sanders, though he's not officially endorsing him.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates thinks Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) stance on reparations is questionable, but he still intends to cast his ballot for him.

On Wednesday, in an interview with Democracy Now, the writer, journalist and educator declared his support for the Bern.

Coates later clarified that while he would vote for the Vermont senator, he was not endorsing him.

Coates has been critical of Sanders’ aversion to reparations -- a topic in which the Atlantic correspondent is very well versed:

If not even an avowed socialist can be bothered to grapple with reparations, if the question really is that far beyond the pale, if Bernie Sanders truly believes that victims of the Tulsa pogrom deserved nothing, that the victims of contract lending deserve nothing, that the victims of debt peonage deserve nothing, that that political plunder of black communities entitle them to nothing, if this is the candidate of the radical left -- then expect white supremacy in America to endure well beyond our lifetimes and lifetimes of our children.

He has also pushed back on Sanders' tendency to address racism with economic solutions.

"A Democratic candidate who offers class-based remedies to address racist plunder because that is what is imminently doable, because all we have are bandages, is doing the best he can," Coates wrote in January. "A Democratic candidate who claims that such remedies are sufficient, who makes a virtue of bandaging, has forgotten the world that should, and must, be. Effectively he answers the trenchant problem of white supremacy by claiming 'something something socialism, and then a miracle occurs.'"

But the mastermind behind "The Case For Reparations" and "The Black Family In The Age Of Mass Incarceration" has been equally critical of Sanders' rival Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the role that President Bill Clinton's policies played in spiking mass incarceration.

Some black voters may not be aware of the 1994 Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act and how it aided the efficiency of mass incarceration via the “three strikes” implementation, a provision that imposed life sentences on anyone convicted of a violent felony after two or more priors. President Clinton also signed into law the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, which gutted welfare. That same year, he repealed the Glass-Steagall Act -- a Depression-era banking law that kept different kinds of banking institutions separate -- which, arguably, led to the 2008 housing crisis and disproportionately affected black homeowners.

Sanders, who pushed back against the notion that tougher sentences would drop crime rates, ended up voting in favor of the 1994 crime bill. His decision was based on preserving the Violence Against Women Act, which was packaged into the sweeping legislation.

Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, addressed these issues on Wednesday in an essay for The Nation declaring that Hillary Clinton does not deserve the black vote.

Alexander's warning against voting for Clinton and Coates' announcement that he would vote for Sanders come one day after Sanders beat Clinton in the New Hampshire Democratic primary.

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