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Why do white people like what I write?

Pankaj Mishra: Ta-Nehisi Coates, 22 February 2018

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy 
by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Hamish Hamilton, 367 pp., £16.99, October 2017, 978 0 241 32523 0
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... During​ the big antiwar protests in early 2003, Ta-Nehisi Coates was a deliveryman for a deli in Park Slope, Brooklyn. He, too, was ‘sceptical’, he wrote a decade later in a blog post for the Atlantic, ‘but if the US was going to take out a mad tyrant, who was I to object?’ After all, as Coates remembered, ‘every “sensible” and “serious” person you knew – left or right – was for the war ...

Loaded Dice

Thomas Chatterton Williams: Ta-Nehisi Coates, 3 December 2015

Between the World and Me 
by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Text, 152 pp., £10.99, September 2015, 978 1 925240 70 2
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... that decided his fate before his parents’ parents had even met. This is the view held by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a 40-year-old journalist at the Atlantic, who makes the case most seductively in his recent memoir, Between the World and Me. Formally modelled on the first part of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, the book is addressed to ...

‘I’m not racist, but …’

Daniel Trilling, 18 April 2019

Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration and the Future of White Majorities 
by Eric Kaufman.
Allen Lane, 617 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 241 31710 5
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National Populism: The Revolt against Liberal Democracy 
by Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin.
Pelican, 384 pp., £9.99, October 2018, 978 0 241 31200 1
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... an article on a US website that claims nobody on the left dare criticise the black American writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. That would come as news to Cornel West, Thomas Chatterton Williams and Pankaj Mishra, all of whom have publicly criticised Coates’s ideas, from a variety of positions.* He treats Marcel Duchamp, New ...

Diary

David Denby: Deaths on Camera, 7 September 2016

... has also become a way of grieving. ‘I have waited for 15 years for this moment,’ Ta Nehisi-Coates said on 24 November 2015, when receiving the National Book Award for Between the World and Me, his essay on race and violence. Coates’s close friend Prince Jones was killed in Virginia in 2000. ‘When Prince Jones ...

Driving through a Postcard

Christian Lorentzen: In New Hampshire, 3 March 2016

... supported Israel, acquiesced to Pentagon appropriations and didn’t object to drone deployments. Ta-Nehisi Coates, who says he’ll be voting for Sanders, has asked what’s so radical about a leftist who doesn’t support reparations to African-Americans. Protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement have disrupted Sanders’s campaign events. These ...

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Adam Shatz: Mass Incarceration, 3 May 2017

Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America 
by James Forman.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 306 pp., £21.98, April 2017, 978 0 374 18997 6
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... powerful man in the world, yet he remained a prisoner of his race, of his ‘black body,’ as Ta-Nehisi Coates put it in Between the World and Me.1 In the face of repeated police shootings of young black men or atrocities such as the church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, Obama did little more than deliver one of his formidable speeches. And ...

While Statues Sleep

Thomas Laqueur, 18 June 2020

Learning from the Germans: Confronting Race and the Memory of Evil 
by Susan Neiman.
Allen Lane, 415 pp., £20, August 2019, 978 0 241 26286 3
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... It’s hard to imagine America applying this sort of public relations logic to its own history: Ta-Nehisi Coates has argued that the US would feel that paying reparations for slavery would diminish ‘America’s heritage, history and standing in the world’.The true absurdity of using the slave and forced labour agreement as a moral example or a ...

Fried Fish

Thomas Chatterton Williams: Colson Whitehead, 17 November 2016

The Underground Railroad 
by Colson Whitehead.
Fleet, 320 pp., £14.99, October 2016, 978 0 7088 9839 0
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... kind of transhistorical thinking the new social consciousness invokes, articulated most notably in Ta-Nehisi Coates’s bestseller, Between the World and Me.* ‘I can’t secure the safety of my son,’ Coates said in his acceptance speech for the National Book Award. ‘I can’t go home and tell him that it’s going ...

Where Life Is Seized

Adam Shatz: Frantz Fanon’s Revolution, 19 January 2017

Écrits sur l’aliénation et la liberté 
by Frantz Fanon, edited by Robert Young and Jean Khalfa.
La Découverte, 688 pp., £22, October 2015, 978 2 7071 8638 6
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... the infernal circle.’ But how was he to liberate himself from this infernal circle and – as Ta-Nehisi Coates would later put it in Between the World and Me – ‘live free in this black body’? Fanon was briefly drawn to the racial romanticism of the Senegalese poet Léopold Senghor, another figure in the Négritude movement, who claimed that ...

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