I have had conversations with very well-educated people who, with a straight face, have told me that there are Black Confederates. If you ask a very well educated person how the GI Bill exacerbated the wealth gap, or how New Deal housing policy helped create the ghetto they very likely will not know. And they do not know, not because they are ignorant, stupid, or immoral, they do not know because they are part of country that has decided that “not knowing” is in its interest. There’s no room for any sort of serious conversation when the basic facts of history are not accessible. It would be like me demanding a conversation on Vichy France—en Français.
So we retreat to mushy, moist talk about who “feelings,” “intentions,” “good people” and “loving fathers.” The great Jay Smooth once said that we need to move from a “what you are” conversation (“you are a racist”) to a “what you are doing” conversation. Unfortunately this presumes a groundwork of honesty and good faith. No such good faith exists because we are ignorant, and deep down inside, we know it and are ashamed of it."
Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Against the ‘Conversation on Race’”