Hayes is a forceful and eloquent writer, and this book deserves close attention by a broad readership. He offers a clear and useful framework for understanding the current dysfunctions of American society. It’s a brilliant diagnosis, and the necessary treatments – more spending on social programs, the de-militarization of the police, gradual changes to the conscious attitudes and unconscious biases of millions of Americans – are more urgent than ever.
At first mention the metaphor seems overdrawn, and eventually it slips a bit under its own weight...But among white Americans, ideas about the collective guilt of black Americans exert a powerful pull. In the Colony, individual guilt or innocence is largely irrelevant. Hayes tells story after story of innocent black suspects routinely standing in for the guilty ... Hayes’s forceful analysis comes from an evocative reading of our colonial past ... compel[s] readers to wrestle with some very tough questions about the nature of American democracy and its deep roots in racism, inequality and punishment.
...although [Hayes] illuminates a great deal in this short book, he frustrates as well — mainly because he shows that he is capable of more sustained illumination ... this is the most important notion Hayes touches on in his book: the relentless motor force of white fear ... Hayes, a storyteller with a mass audience and a willingness to admit his own fear, is important now ... Fortunately, with his broadcast platform and his manifest smarts, Hayes can make his book the start of a discussion, not the end of one. A Colony in a Nation reminds us that fear of the other, when weaponized and mechanized by the state, usually makes things worse. That’s a lesson Americans of every color would do well to remember.