In the story of North Lawndale and what it represents, the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center stands for more than the bleak prospects of the neighborhood's young people. The facility is at once a product of the history that Ta-Nehisi Coates chronicles in "The Case for Reparations" and one of most perversely effective methods we use to avoid acknowledging it.
The story that troubles me is what occurred under America's first African-American president, in our own time. I refer to the preventable catastrophe of the wipe-out of black home equity. Beginning in the 1970s, when the Federal government finally stopped colluding in racial redlining, black families at last got a reasonable shot at accumulating wealth via the dream of homeownership -- assets for one's old age and something to pass along to one's children. One of the most disgusting slanders by the right against low-income people and especially African Americans is the claim that the subprime collapse resulted from the government pressuring lenders to loan to unqualified borrowers. The vast majority of subprime loans were written by mortgage companies not even covered by federal law. Subprime was a scheme originated on Wall Street to profit from deceiving borrowers.
The cloud of chronic traumatic encephalopathy -- the concussion-related brain disease that had led to mental illness and Alzheimer's-like symptoms -- hangs over the apparent suicide of Junior Seau, one of the N.F.L.'s great linebackers. The news was the final straw for Ta-Nehisi Coates of the Atlantic, who wrote that he could no longer find enjoyment in watching football with the increasingly grim prospects for its long-term practitioners, and so he was giving it up.