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Saturday, July 2, 2016


Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a book that is essentially a love letter to his son. "Between The World And Me" is unique in that it is a way of instructing his son how to realistically protect his black body against every present white supremacy while being hopeful, somehow. It is an amazing book, a short book, and I think everyone, everywhere should read it. 

Excerpt From The PBS Transcript of
Ta-Nehisi Coates Interview

HARI SREENIVASAN: Someone we have on the program every week, David Brooks, it was one of the first pieces of critiques that came out. And he said you distort history, that it’s unfair to look at America through just the lens of violence, that for every KKK, there is a Harlem school zone, that the American dream is what binds people across race, across caste and class.
TA-NEHISI COATES: Well, you know, I appreciate David actually reading the book. I appreciate him engaging in the book, engaging with the book, and writing a column about that, and not just sort of ignoring it.
But I obviously pretty strongly disagree with that. The Harlem Children’s Zone is a relatively new invention. It’s not — it’s called the Harlem Children’s Zone. There is not a Harlem Children’s Zone in every community in America, in every black community in America.
I understand his point. Something like Harlem Children’s Zone, there isn’t — the Harlem Children’s Zone actually represents a fairly unique level of investment in the lives of young black people.
But more than that, let’s talk across time. The Ku Klux Klan is the most lethal domestic terrorist organization in American history. That’s what they are. They have marked our history for the past 150 years. I believe the Harlem Children’s Zone is probably about 10 or 15 years old.
That sort of comparison, I don’t think works. His point about, for every Jefferson Davis, there’s an Abraham Lincoln, no, Abraham Lincoln is pretty singular. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated for making a stand effectively against white supremacy. There was not another president as progressive as him who made that sort of stand probably for another hundred years, disregarding Ulysses S. Grant, I mean, with that exception.
That’s unique. That’s very, very, very unique. Jefferson Davis is actually quite normal, regrettably, across American history. So I disagree with that.

One of the people I think should re-read this book are people like the very "reasonable," as white republicans go, David Brooks.

I know that black people have different perspectives on race in this country. And I know white people mostly live in a constant state of willful denial in regards to race in this country. I know this. I understand this. I wind up writing on this in some way almost daily. But it continually amazes me -- and I'm talking decades long amazement -- to read that white people will take an exceptional act of a not-THAT-exceptional human being like Abraham Lincoln then try to use his freeing the slaves (only in the South at first) as REPRESENTATIVE of what white people have been like toward black people over the course of 400 years.

I'd like to say that this level of denial is unique to white people, that black people, through their sufferings, have become more empathetic to people of all genders, races, and ethnicities. And while that is somewhat true as President Obama outlined in a commencement speech in 2016, it's not mostly true.

While response to Jesse Williams Humanitarian Award Speech on BET was well received in most corners of the black community, a few trifling black men took the opportunity to claim his appeal to black women is his being light-skinned when there are photos, books, movies, music videos, and history books that show that this is portion of colorism is predominantly black and male.

And yet another light-skinned woman took another opportunity to belittle the effects of colorism of dark-skinned black people, after she saw some of what is likely the hotep fringe go negative on Jesse Williams, in the very progressive Huff Post by calling it "Oppression Olympics" -- using the very same language that white people use to dismiss the effects of racism.

 So a white, republican, David Brooks, having this reasonable sounding but typical denial of just how extensive and violent white racism was and is in this country, despite having so much evidence of its existence is not that surprising. But the size of his denial, reasonable sounding or not, is huge.

Since President Obama had been President, his black face in The White House, has made a significant section of the white people in this country show their true colors. White or White-ish cops shooting unarmed black people may simply be getting more press since the rise of Black Lives Matter. But the rise of the Tea Party; Donald Trump's overt racism securing him the republican nomination; and even the rise of racially clueless Bernie Sanders from the 96% white state of Vermont (since 1968) are all current calls to "Make America White Again."

Listen to Ta-nehisi Coates speak in the video below. It's not long. And I'm of the opinion you can learn something from him if you listen to him or Chimamanda Adiche even if they are only reading a five year old's graffiti off a subway wall. After you listen to the video, think about buying his book. Again, it's short but amazing and lovely. And I'd like to think it has the ability to inspire change.