Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Marvel

Personal and Critical Reflections on the Work of Ta-Nehisi Coates from Stranger Writers


Great stuff, guys. Thanks for this.
I've read "Between the World & Me" and the two extended pieces (on 'Reparations' & 'Mass Incarceration') plus other articles from Coates in the Atlantic. I've not read any of his work in the DC City Paper. Nary a doubt he is a fine journalist. As an author in general, he is very good but not great. "Between..." was a short work and an angry one. It was largely a polemic against 'white America' what ever that means. I don't believe America and it's history is 'white'. Simply isn't. America is a highly sophisticated and integrated society for better or for worse. Last time I checked, the country has a President who is of African and Caucasian heritage. I find that extraordinary and good. I merely disagree with his ideology.

Here's a terrific, civil scenario I'd like to experience. I'd like to have a cup of coffee or a beer with Mr. Obama & Mr. Coates and discuss 'race in America'. No one owns the narrative. We just talk. If anything just to prove to Eric Holder that I am not a coward. And to prove that I, like the President and Mr. Coates am human, American and coincidently male. That we have much more in common than meets the eye.

With the possible exception of Charles all the Stranger reviews of Coates were glowing. Was there anybody on the Stranger staff that has read Coates' work and dissented strongly?
@2 Sit down, dude

This was a great article, loved Angela Garbes' piece especially. Best (re)-hire the stranger has done in a while.
@2 - You disagree with the concept of white supremacy in American history but you managed to read everything the guy wrote? I'm not even sure how to engage you in a debate.

Between the World And Me should be taught in every high school in America.
African immigrants can come here and excel in any field they choose. If white Americans are so systematically racist, we aren't very good at it, since we take more legal immigrants (many of them non-white) than any other nation.

Race activism is a fast growing profession. There's not shortage of polemicists and revisionists; and Coates, like many others, excels at his work.

Think about how few countries offer the level of education of even our poorest public schools, and how it's completely taken for granted and unused. Think also about countries, like ours, that are destinations for desperate immigrants, and about the places they flee. It always goes in one direction, and whatever you think of our history, the people who structured this country left something desirable behind.

@4 yeah, it should be taught as an example of how to make a career out of writing melodramatic, godawful purple prose and hacky Salon-tier racial agitprop and then selling it to guilty white liberals . That's where the money is in publishing nowadays.
'@2 - You disagree with the concept of white supremacy in American history but you managed to read everything the guy wrote? I'm not even sure how to engage you in a debate.'

I never claimed to read everything Coates wrote. Nor did the Stranger staffers, I'm fairly certain. And indeed, I just don't disagree with white supremacy, I deplore it. I was merely asking rhetorically if any Stranger staffers had any criticism of Mr. Coates' writing. Seems to me, the entire American intelligentsia and even the media are lauding Mr Coates greatly. I rarely have encountered any major dissent considering what I've read of his work. I'm at great odds with some of it.

Me thinks it would be far better to engage in a debate on the subject of 'race in America' with Mr. Obama & Mr. Coates than with you sir.
Sit down, dudes
I think we should separate Coates the creator of literature vs. Coates the declaimer of modern life.

As a creator of literature he offers a happy manipulation of the English language that is easy to read; his writing is clear, direct, and at times quite witty.

As declaimer of modern life, he describes what he sees, he tells his readers what he think about that, and he sometimes offers ameliorations for the human condition.

I can be a fan of his writing as writing because he is a good writer. Read his earlier works and compare it to his later works, and see the shaping of his voice as it has become clearer and as he loses the more purple-y phrases of his early writing. (I don’t think you’re going to see Coates lose his style entirely--it illustrates his love of language and of the sound of words and phrases.)

I can also be someone who reads his ideas and opinions and forms my own in response. I don’t have to agree with all he says in order to think he describes things well and has insight I can understand.

Perhaps one of the things that is disturbing is that he writes so well and clearly about things we’d rather avoid talking about, or that we’d like to talk about using our normal methods of distance. We’d like to think that we have good feelings about minorities and minority voices, that our good feelings can reassure us and those we’d like to talk to that we have good intentions. “We aren’t like those bad people.”

Perhaps we are uncomfortable with what he says because he is saying to people like us that our good feelings and good intentions aren’t really making any difference, and that we can’t let our good feelings and good intentions substitute for facing hard things directly and speaking about them without nuance and euphemism.
The whole race-baiting thing is so 20th century. Now that America is becoming majority minority it's probably time for the "intellectual" blacks to find something else to do. Like, maybe, finding legitimate jobs? Figuring out how to lower out of wedlock births in the hood? How to eliminate the hood altogether? There are surely more worthwhile endeavors than whining.