Next week, The Atlantic is publishing a story that attempts to do two things: examine the black family in this current age of hyper-imprisonment and consider the policy legacy of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, specifically his 1965 report on the black family. I wrote and reported the story. I think it follows a train of my work that began during the fall of 2012, as I started reporting and researching The Case for Reparations, through the winter of 2013, when I began writing Between the World and Me.
What became clear for me while reporting the reparations story was that black inequality was not mysterious, that it was explicable, that one could delineate the actual policies without resorting to the flim-flammery of “cultural pathology.” What became clear for me while writing and reporting Between the World and Me was that this suite of policies had tangible and knowable effects on black people that could be demonstrated beyond charts and graphs. What has become clear for me in reporting this story—The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration—is that the danger of repeating those policies, or reinforcing the narrative that makes those policies possible, is all around us.
More next Tuesday. I hope you’ll read.