Ta-Nehisi Coates: Grand Juries & Police Aren't The Problem, They Reflect "American Racism"


TA-NAHESI COATES, THE ATLANTIC: I would like to say I was surprised, I was not surprised. I was not shocked at all. We expect our grand juries to exist outside of the context, outside of the forces that affect ordinary citizens, ordinary Americans who live in this country and that just isn't true.

Laws, grand juries, all of our hallowed institutions, they are what the people make them to be ultimately. They don't exist on some other plane immune from other forces like American racism. So I's like to say I was shocked and surprised. I was not, regrettably.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC: The way we're having this discussion is about the intersection of policing and racial bias. You're saying let's not hold the police out as an institution that is the one institution in American life particularly tainted by racial bias.

TA-NAHESI COATES: Right. well, I mean, the history of this country is, you know, we have this long history of racism in this country. And as it happens, the criminal justice system has been perhaps the most prominent instrument for administering racism, but the racism doesn't come from the criminal justice system, it doesn't come from the police.

The police are pretty much doing, you know, what the society, you know, they originate from want them to do. You know, you can look at any number of studies on how African-Americans are perceived in terms of criminality versus other Americans. You can look at the long history of criminalizing black people in this country which did not begin with Eric Garner, which did not begin with Tamir Rice and did not begin John Crawford. This is a very old tradition in this country. The expectation that the police, our grand juries, our prosecutors will exist outside history is a grave mistake. We have to come to some sort of terms with the country we're living in.

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