So far the most surprising, beautiful sentence in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ We Were Eight Years in Power. It’s about his wife and part of one of the meta-essays that introduce his previously published essays in this collection. Some have aged better than others, but the meta-essays alone are worth the read alone. Man, that guy can write.
This year’s National Book Award finalist Strangers In Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild about tea party supporters in Louisiana, and last year’s winner Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Between the World and Me is perhaps teh best book I’Ve read in the last five years, I might just reread Coates open letter about the Black condition, and I’ll add Strangers In Their Own Land to my to-read list.
The case against Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” is a triumph of style over substance, of clamorous white grievance over knowable facts.
This is what Andrew Breitbart, and his progeny, ultimately understood. What Shirley Sherrod did or did not do really didn’t matter. White racial grievance enjoys automatic credibility, and even when disproven, it is never disqualifying of its bearers.
My answer has been characterized, in various places, as an “endorsement,” a characterization that I’d object to. Despite my very obvious political biases, I’ve never felt it was really my job to get people to agree with me. My first duty, as a writer, is to myself. In that sense I simply hope to ask all the questions that keep me up at night. My second duty is to my readers. In that sense, I hope to make readers understand why those questions are critical. I don’t so much hope that any reader “agrees” with me, as I hope to haunt them, to trouble their sense of how things actually are.
Ta-Nehisi Coates comments on the current debate surrounding buildings named after President Woodrow Wilson in Princeton, and gives an example why the former President was a “racist pig.”
Coates, possibly the most important writer at this moment in America, wrote a long letter to his son about growing up and being Black:
“I knew that my portion of the American galaxy, where bodies were enslaved by a tenacious gravity, was black and that the other, liberated portion was not. I knew that some inscrutable energy preserved the breach. I felt, but did not yet understand, the relation between that other world and me. And I felt in this a cosmic injustice, a profound cruelty, which infused an abiding, irrepressible desire to unshackle my body and achieve the velocity of escape.”
History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.
A great quote by Maya Angelou, that in face of the discussion around Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article, the misogynist shooting in Isla Vista, and the electoral success of several rightwing-extremist patries in Europe is a relevant as ever.
Sadly, Dr. Maya Angelou passed away. Her writing will live forever. She was 86 years old.