Here's How Ta-Nehisi Coates Informed Reparations On 'Watchmen'
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Here's How Ta-Nehisi Coates Informed Reparations On 'Watchmen'

Watchmen has been blowing viewer’s minds each week with its depth, especially when it comes to the Tulsa Massacre of 1921, otherwise known as the destruction of Black Wall Street. Series creator Damon Lindelof revealed that much of his focus on the Tulsa Massacre was inspired by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

In a recent podcast episode of Kevin Smith and Marc Bernardin’s Fatman Beyond, Bernardin spoke with Lindelof about his process of creating the series. In the conversation, Lindelof revealed how Coates’ Between the World and Me and his Atlantic essay “The Case for Reparations” led him down the path of making the Tulsa Massacre the centerpiece of the series.

“I completely and totally acknowledge that I’m virtue-signaling right now, but…like every white male liberal in Los Angeles, we were all talking about how much Ta-Nehisi Coates we were reading,” he said, saying he initially read Between the World and Me because everyone else around him was reading the book.

“I started because I felt like it was the thing that I had to do because I was a progressive and I cared about racial inequality. But then when I read Ta-Nehisi Coates, I got deeply and profoundly affected. It was like religion, and I fell very, very deep.”

This led him to read “The Case for Reparations,” an experience that he said made him see “the world in an entirely different way after that.” In that essay, he learned about the Tulsa Massacre, a piece of history that had been left out of history books for decades.

“I was like, ‘What’s that?’ I’d never heard of it, and I consider myself to be a fairly well-educated person who cares about this stuff,” he said. “The more I read about it the more I was amazed at the fact that a) that this had happened and b) that I didn’t know that this had happened. So it felt like the initial crime of the destruction of Tulsa in 1921 and what was happening there was horrific, but even more horrific was the idea that it had been kind of erased.”

“…I was like, I feel compelled to tell everyone that I know about this thing that happened, and I would start saying to people just in dinner conversations, ‘Hey have you ever heard about Black Wall Street?’ and people would be like ‘No,’ and I would start talking and I would see their eyes kind of glaze over,” he continued. “Not because they were bored, but because I think it was too much to take in. I was like, I gotta find a way to Trojan Horse this story into something where people have to see it.”

You can watch the entire podcast episode in this video below.

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Photo: HBO

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