The June 2014 issue of The Atlantic is now available online—summarized and provided below for your reference:
Cover Story: The Case for Reparations
“It is as though we have run up a credit-card bill and, having pledged to charge no more, remain befuddled that the balance does not disappear. The effects of that balance, interest accruing daily, are all around us.”
In a cover story resulting from nearly two years of reporting, The Atlantic’s national correspondent Ta-Nehisi Coates writes as only he can about “the moral debt” America has accrued: first for centuries of slavery, then deepened by segregation, discrimination, and blatantly racist housing policies that persist to this day. His focus is Chicago’s West Side, which, he argues, is sinking when compared with the rest of the city.
Coates traces the West Side’s skyrocketing poverty, infant-mortality, unemployment, and homicide rates to the redlining officially mandated by the Federal Housing Administration after World War II. In moving interviews, he documents the predatory loans that were the only choice available to would-be black homeowners in Chicago—and the countermovement, the Contract Buyers League, that sprung up in the late 1960s seeking, in essence, reparations. These were blacks aspiring to the middle class, with salaries that enabled them to pay a mortgage—if U.S. policies permitted them to get a mortgage.
“The Case for Reparations” is a call for us to face this history head-on:
And so we must imagine a new country. Reparations—by which I mean the full acceptance of our collective biography and its consequences—is the price we must pay to see ourselves squarely … What I’m talking about is more than recompense for past injustices—more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant bribe. What I’m talking about is a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal. Reparations would mean the end of scarfing hot dogs on the Fourth of July while denying the facts of our heritage. Reparations would mean the end of yelling “patriotism” while waving a Confederate flag. Reparations would mean a revolution of the American consciousness, a reconciling of our self-image as the great democratizer with the facts of our history.
To pair with the piece, The Atlantic’s Video Channel introduces two short documentaries: The Story of the Contract Buyer’s League, and Lawndale Today. The complete article and videos are at TheAtlantic.com, along with interactive maps illustrating the continuing effects of redlining on Chicago’s population.
Ta-Nehisi Coates will talk about the cover story during an event at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, June 12. Tickets and more information are available on The Atlantic’s Events Channel.
Fire on the Mountain
In June of 2013, 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters lost their lives battling a fire near Yarnell, Arizona—the highest death toll nationally for firefighters trying to control a wildfire since 1933. This terrible loss, Brian Mockenhaupt writes, should make us question our approach to fighting fire. In an expansive feature, Mockenhaupt weaves together the devastating story of these 19 firefighters with the history and science behind how we battle wildfires. The “put out every fire” method is leaving our forests, communities, and firefighters more vulnerable than ever.
At TheAtlantic.com/Fire, watch an original Atlantic video about the Missoula Fire Sciences Lab, where scientists use wind tunnels, combustion chambers, and fire-whirl generators to study how wildfires start and spread.
- The Gigolo: The Hollywood gigolo-turned-reality-TV-star Vin Armani is the man of many ladies’ dreams. Contributing editor Sandra Tsing Loh and three friends spend a boozy night with Armani for this tale of seduction, debauchery, and the art of the male gigolo. Read more
- Making Babies: These days, there’s more than one way to make a baby. Senior editor Alexis Madrigal offers five predictions about the future of reproduction, including: personalized biological clocks, synthetic sperm, and uterus transplants. Read more
- So Long, Partner: Defining relationships has gotten more and more complicated, but some things remain the same. Jen Doll reports on the curious staying power of husband and wife. Read more
- Wall Street’s $6 Billion Mystery: In recent months, shares of Herbalife, the global nutrition company, have lost about a fifth of their value. As big investors make opposite bets on the company’s future, Frank Partnoy goes in search of the answer to a complicated question: Is Herbalife a pyramid scheme? Read more
- Putting Ukraine in Its Place: From the current debates you’d never know what matters more: Russia’s land grab, Iran’s nuclear program, or China’s territorial claims. Contributing editor Peter Beinart itemizes how America stopped thinking strategically. Read more
- How the Rich Shall Inherit the Earth: The very, very rich—the 1 percent of the 1 percent—make most of their money from investments and inheritance. Senior editor Derek Thompson charts the rise of the new plutocrats, and how they got to the top of the world. Read more
- Spoiler Alert: “If food waste were a country, it’d be the third-largest greenhouse-gas emitter on the planet.” One solution to help combat the staggering amount of uneaten food we trash? Smart food-packaging labels that use temperature to indicate freshness. No more sniff tests required. Read more
- Is laughter really the best medicine? In Funny or Die, associate editor Julie Beck places value on a sense of humor, which can improve health, lead to pregnancy, even save lives—or go vastly awry. Read more
The Culture File & Essay:
- Scalia v. Scalia: Nowhere is the discussion of religion more taboo than at the Supreme Court. As a lengthy biography of Antonin Scalia hits the shelves, Dahlia Lithwick examines whether the justice’s faith influences his judicial decision making. Read more
- What Putin Wants: Respect, sure, but also money. Senior editor David Frum offers his take on “the astute new book on Russia” by the British journalist Ben Judah, and how Putin’s quest for respect—and wealth—shapes his relations with the West. Read more
- Ship of Wonks: How to meet men who, like you, are at home watching the Science Channel? Iris Smyles embarks on a physics-themed cruise in search of love. Read more
- The Game That Conquered the World: After watching—and lamenting about—his 11-year-old son and friends play Minecraft for hours, contributing editor James Parker lets himself in on the obsession to answer this question: Can 100 million users can really be wrong? Read more
Finally, the back-page Big Question asks: “What Is the Most Influential Song of All Time?” We hear from Clive Davis, Carly Rae Jepsen, John Carter Cash, and “Weird Al” Yankovic.
These articles and more are featured in the June issue of The Atlantic, available today, May 22, 2014, on TheAtlantic.com and The Atlantic’s mobile apps, and on newsstands next week.