Ta Nehisi Coates Dream Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Ta Nehisi Coates Dream. Here they are! All 100 of them:

I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The point of this language of “intention” and “personal responsibility” is broad exoneration. Mistakes were made. Bodies were broken. People were enslaved. We meant well. We tried our best. “Good intention” is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Hate gives identity. The nigger, the fag, the bitch illuminate the border, illuminate what we ostensibly are not, illuminate the Dream of being white, of being a Man. We name the hated strangers and are thus confirmed in the tribe.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
And for so long I have wanted to escape into the Dream, to fold my country over my head like a blanket. But this has never been an option because the Dream rests on our backs, the bedding made from our bodies.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
And still I urge you to struggle. Struggle for the memory of your ancestors. Struggle for wisdom. Struggle for the warmth of The Mecca. Struggle for your grandmother and grandfather, for your name. But do not struggle for the Dreamers. Hope for them. Pray for them, if you are so moved. But do not pin your struggle on their conversion. The Dreamers will have to learn to struggle themselves, to understand that the field for their Dream, the stage where they have painted themselves white, is the deathbed of us all.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
I was young and love to me was a fuse that was lit, not a garden that was grown. Love was not concerned with any deep knowledge of its object, of their wants and dreams, but mainly with the joy felt in their presence and the sickness felt in their departure.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Water Dancer)
The forgetting is habit, is yet another necessary component of the Dream. They have forgotten the scale of theft that enriched them in slavery; the terror that allowed them, for a century, to pilfer the vote; the segregationist policy that gave them their suburbs. They have forgotten, because to remember would tumble them out of the beautiful Dream and force them to live down here with us, down here in the world. I am convinced that the Dreamers, at least the Dreamers of today, would rather live white than live free. In the Dream they are Buck Rogers, Prince Aragorn, an entire race of Skywalkers. To awaken them is to reveal that they are an empire of humans and, like all empires of humans, are built on the destruction of the body. It is to stain their nobility, to make them vulnerable, fallible, breakable humans.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
You may have heard the talk of diversity, sensitivity training, and body cameras. These are all fine and applicable, but they understate the task and allow the citizens of this country to pretend that there is real distance between their own attitudes and those of the ones appointed to protect them. The truth is that the police reflect America in all of its will and fear, and whatever we might make of this country’s criminal justice policy, it cannot be said that it was imposed by a repressive minority. The abuses that have followed from these policies—the sprawling carceral state, the random detention of black people, the torture of suspects—are the product of democratic will. And so to challenge the police is to challenge the American people who send them into the ghettos armed with the same self-generated fears that compelled the people who think they are white to flee the cities and into the Dream. The problem with the police is not that they are fascist pigs but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Good intention" is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
I had dreams back then. Big dumb dreams. Dead and gone.” “And what do you dream of now?” she asked. “After what I just came up from?” I said. “Breathing. I just dream of breathing.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Water Dancer)
Mistakes were made. Bodies were broken. People were enslaved. We meant well. We tried our best. “Good intention” is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The Dream thrives on generalization, on limiting the number of possible questions, on privileging immediate answers.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Breathing. I just dream of breathing
Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Water Dancer)
The writer, and that was what I was becoming, must be wary of every Dream and every nation, even his own nation. Perhaps his own nation more than any other, precisely because it was his own.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
It does not matter that the “intentions” of individual educators were noble. Forget about intentions. What any institution, or its agents, “intend” for you is secondary. Our world is physical. Learn to play defense—ignore the head and keep your eyes on the body. Very few Americans will directly proclaim that they are in favor of black people being left to the streets. But a very large number of Americans will do all they can to preserve the Dream. No one directly proclaimed that schools were designed to sanctify failure and destruction. But a great number of educators spoke of “personal responsibility” in a country authored and sustained by a criminal irresponsibility. The point of this language of “intention” and “personal responsibility” is broad exoneration. Mistakes were made. Bodies were broken. People were enslaved. We meant well. We tried our best. “Good intention” is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
I never wanted you to be twice as good as them, so much as I have always wanted you to attack every day of your brief bright life in struggle. The people who must believe they are white can never be your measuring stick. I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
It began to strike me that the point of my education was a kind of discomfort, was the process that would not award me my own especial Dream but would break all the dreams, all the comforting myths of Africa, of America, and everywhere, and would leave me only with humanity in all its terribleness. And there was so much terrible out there, even among us. You must understand this.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
As slaves we were this country’s first windfall, the down payment on its freedom. After the ruin and liberation of the Civil War came Redemption for the unrepentant South and Reunion, and our bodies became this country’s second mortgage. In the New Deal we were their guestroom, their finished basement. And today, with a sprawling prison system, which has turned the warehousing of black bodies into a jobs program for Dreamers and a lucrative investment for Dreamers; today, when 8 percent of the world’s prisoners are black men, our bodies have refinanced the Dream of being white. Black life is cheap, but in America black bodies are a natural resource of incomparable value.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
But a great number of educators spoke of “personal responsibility” in a country authored and sustained by a criminal irresponsibility. The point of this language of “intention” and “personal responsibility” is broad exoneration. Mistakes were made. Bodies were broken. People were enslaved. We meant well. We tried our best. “Good intention” is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
I do not believe we can stop them, Samori, because they must ultimately stop themselves. And still I urge you to struggle. Struggle for the memory of your ancestors. Struggle for wisdom. Struggle for the warmth of The Mecca. Struggle for your grandmother and grandfather, for your name. But do not struggle for the Dreamers. Hope for them. Pray for them, if you are so moved. But do not pin your struggle on their conversion. The Dreamers will have to learn to struggle themselves, to understand that the field for their Dream, the stage where they have painted themselves white, is the deathbed of us all. The Dream is the same habit that endangers this planet, the same habit that sees our bodies stowed away in prisons and ghettos.
Ta-Nehisi Coates
We would prefer to say that such people cannot exist, that there aren't any," writes Solzhenitsyn. "To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he's doing is good, or else that it's a well-considered act in conformity with natural law." This is the foundation of the Dream -- its adherents must not just believe in it but believe that it is just, believe that their possession of the Dream is the natural result of grit, honor, and good works. There is some passing acknowledgment of the bad old days, which, by the way, we're not so bad as to have any ongoing effect on our present. The mettle that it takes to look away from the horror of our prison system, from police forces transformed into armies, from the long war against the black body, is not forged overnight. This is the practiced habit of jabbing out one's eyes and forgetting the work of one's hands. To acknowledge these horrors means turning away from the brightly rendered version of your country as it has always declared itself and turning toward something murkier and unknown. It is still too difficult for most Americans to do this. But that is your work. It must be, if only to preserve the sanctity of your mind.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The Dream is the enemy of all art, courageous thinking, and honest writing.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The election of Donald Trump confirmed everything I knew of my country and none of what I could accept. The idea that America would follow its first black president with Donald Trump accorded with its history. I was shocked at my own shock. I had wanted Obama to be right. I still want Obama to be right. I still would like to fold myself into the dream. This will not be possible.
Ta-Nehisi Coates
I am sorry that I cannot make it okay. I am sorry that I cannot save you -- but not that sorry. Part of me thinks that your very vulnerability brings you closer to the meaning of life, just as for others, the quest to believe oneself white divides them from it. The fact is that despite their dreams, their lives are also not inviolable. When their own vulnerability becomes real -- when the police decide that tactics for the ghetto should enjoy wider usage, when their armed society shoots down their children, when nature sends hurricanes against their cities -- they are shocked in a way that those of us who were born and bred to understand cause and effect can never be. And I would not have you like them. You have been cast into a race in which the wind is always at your face and the hounds are always at your heels. And to varying degrees this is true of all life. The difference is that you do not have the privilege of living in ignorance of this essential fact. I am speaking to you as I always have -- as the sober and serious man I have always wanted you to be, who does not apologize for his human feelings, who does not make excuses for his height, his long arms, his beautiful smile. You are growing into consciousness, and my wish for you is that you feel no need to constrict yourself to make other people comfortable. None of that can change the math anyway. I never wanted you to be twice as good as them, so much as I have always wanted you to attack every day of your brief bright life in struggle. The people who must believe they are white can never be your measuring stick. I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Black people are not the descendants of kings. We are—and I say this with big pride—the progeny of slaves. If there’s any majesty in our struggle, it lies not in fairy tales but in those humble origins and the great distance we’ve traveled since. Ditto for the dreams of a separate but noble past. Cosby’s, and much of black America’s, conservative analysis flattens history and smooths over the wrinkles that have characterized black America since its inception.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
And the plunder was not just of Prince alone. Think of all the love poured into him. Think of the tuitions for Montessori and music lessons. Think of the gasoline expended, the treads worn carting him to football games, basketball tournaments, and Little League. Think of all the time spent regulating sleepovers. Think of the surprise birthday parties, the daycare, and the reference checks on babysitters. Think of World Book and Childcraft. Think of checks written for family photos. Think of credit cards charged for vacations. Think of soccer balls, science kits, chemistry sets, racetracks, and model trains. Think of all the embraces, all the private jokes, customs, greetings, names, dreams, all the shared knowledge and capacity of a black family injected into that vessel of flesh and bone. And think of how that vessel was taken, shattered on the concrete, and all its holy contents, all that had gone into him, sent flowing back to the earth.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
For it is not simply by slavery that you are captured, but by a kind of fraud, which paints its executors as guardians at the gate, staving off African savagery, when it is they themselves who are savages, who are Mordred, who are the Dragon, in Camelot’s clothes. And at that moment of revelation, of understanding, running is not a thought, not even as a dream, but a need, no different than the need to flee a burning house.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Water Dancer)
Art was not an after-school special. Art was not motivational speaking. Art was not sentimental. It had no responsibility to be hopeful or optimistic or make anyone feel better about the world. It must reflect the world in all its brutality and beauty, not in hopes of changing it but in the mean and selfish desire to not be enrolled in its lie, to not be coopted by the television dreams, to not ignore the great crimes all around us.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
Faggot” was a word I had employed all my life. And now here they were, The Cabal, The Coven, The Others, The Monsters, The Outsiders, The Faggots, The Dykes, dressed in all their human clothes. I am black, and have been plundered and have lost my body. But perhaps I too had the capacity for plunder, maybe I would take another human’s body to confirm myself in a community. Perhaps I already had. Hate gives identity. The nigger, the fag, the bitch illuminate the border, illuminate what we ostensibly are not, illuminate the Dream of being white, of being a Man. We name the hated strangers and are thus confirmed in the tribe.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
But sitting in that garden, for the first time I was an alien, I was a sailor - landless and disconnected. And I was sorry that I had never felt this particular loneliness before - that I had never felt myself so far outside of someone else's dream.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
We meant well. We tried our best. "Good intention" is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The truth is that the police reflect America in all of its will and fear, and whatever we might make of this country's criminal justice policy, it cannot be said that it was imposed by a repressive minority. The abuses that have followed from these policies--the sprawling carceral state, the random detention of black people, the torture of suspects--are the product of democratic will. And so to challenge the police is to challenge the American people who send them into the ghettos armed with the same self-generated fears that compelled the people who think they are white to flee the cities and into the Dream. The problem with the police is not that they are fascist pigs but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
I know now that all people hunger for a noble, unsullied past, that as sure as the black nationalist dreams of a sublime Africa before the white man's corruption, so did Thomas Jefferson dream of an idyllic Britain before the Normans, so do all of us dream of some other time when things were so simple. I know now that that hunger is a retreat from the knotty present into myth and that what ultimately awaits those who retreat into fairy tales, who seek refuge in the mad pursuit to be made great again, in the image of greatness that never was, is tragedy.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
Struggle for the memory of your ancestors. Struggle for wisdom. Struggle for the warmth of The Mecca. Struggle for your grandmother and grandfather, for your name. But do not struggle for the Dreamers. Hope for them. Pray for them, if you are so moved. But do not pin your struggle on their conversion. The Dreamers will have to learn to struggle themselves, to understand that the field for their Dream, the stage where they have painted themselves white, is the deathbed of us all.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
There is no them without you, and without their right to break you they must necessarily fall from the mountain, lose their divinity, and tumble out of the Dream.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
And I dream of being able to turn to a woman for whom I got a feeling, and speak that feeling, holler that feeling, with no thought beyond me and her as to what that might mean.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Water Dancer)
I would fall into myself during these "examinations," because I quickly learned that the only way to survive such invasion was to dream, to let my soul fly from my body ...
Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Water Dancer)
When it came to her son, Dr. Jones’s country did what it does best—it forgot him. The forgetting is habit, is yet another necessary component of the Dream.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
But what did it mean to find me, a slave, dreaming about those books?
Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Water Dancer)
But what did it mean to find me, a slave, dreaming amid those books?
Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Water Dancer)
...the Dream rests on our backs, the bedding made from our bodies.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The truth is that the police reflect America in all of its will and fear, and whatever we might make of the country's criminal justice policy, it cannot be said that it was imposed by a repressive minority. The abuses that have followed from these policies--the sprawling carceral state, the random detention of black people, the torture of suspects--are the product of democratic will. And so to challenge the police is to challenge the American people who send them into the ghettos armed with the same self-generated fears that compelled the people who think they are white to flee the cities and into the Dream. The problem with police is not that they are fascist pigs but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Part of me thinks that your very vulnerability brings you closer to the meaning of life, just as for others, the quest to believe oneself white divides them from it. The fact is that despite their dreams, their lives are also not inviolable. When their own vulnerability becomes real--when the police decide that tactics intended for the ghetto should enjoy wider usage, when their armed society shoots down their children, when nature sends hurricanes against their cities--they are shocked in a way that those of us who were born and bred to understand cause and effect can never be.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Educators spoke of “personal responsibility” in a country authored and sustained by a criminal irresponsibility. The point of this language of “intention” and “personal responsibility” is broad exoneration. Mistakes were made. Bodies were broken. People were enslaved. We meant well. We tried our best. “Good intention” is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Art was not motivational speaking. Art was not sentimental. It had no responsibility to hopeful or optimistic or make anyone feel better about the world. It must reflect the world in all it's brutality and beauty, not in hopes of changing it, but in the mean and selfish desire to not be enrolled in its lie to not be co-opted by the television dreams, to not ignore the great crimes all around us.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
For so long I have wanted to escape into the Dream, to fold my country over my head like a blanket. But this has never been an option because the Dream rests on our backs, the bedding made from our bodies.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Each time a police officer engages us, death, injury, maiming is possible. It is not enough to say that this is true of anyone or more true of criminals. The moment the officers began their pursuit of Prince Jones, his life was in danger. The Dreamers accept this as the cost of doing business, accept our bodies as currency, because it is their tradition. As slaves we were this country’s first windfall, the down payment on its freedom. After the ruin and liberation of the Civil War came Redemption for the unrepentant South and Reunion, and our bodies became this country’s second mortgage. In the New Deal we were their guestroom, their finished basement. And today, with a sprawling prison system, which has turned the warehousing of black bodies into a jobs program for Dreamers and a lucrative investment for Dreamers; today, when 8 percent of the world’s prisoners are black men, our bodies have refinanced the Dream of being white. Black life is cheap, but in America black bodies are a natural resource of incomparable value.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
...a mountain is not a mountain if there is nothing below. You and I my son, are that below. There is no them without you, and without the right to brake you they must necessarily fall from the mountain, loose their divinity and tumble out of the dream. And then they would have to determine how to build their suburbs on something other than human bones, how to angle their jails towards something other than a human stock yard, how to erect a democracy independent of cannibalism.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
[Art] must reflect the world in all its brutality and beauty, not in hopes of changing it but in the mean and selfish desire to not be enrolled in its lie, to not be coopted by the television dreams, to not ignore the great crimes all around us.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
Even in those pieces that seemed to be casually tossed off, I was always searching for the right word, for the proper escape from the clichés that threatened every sentence, from truisms that threatened to steer me back into the sentimental dream.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
You are growing into consciousness, and my wish for you is that you feel no need to constrict yourself to make other people comfortable. None of that can change the math anyway. I never wanted you to be twice as good as them, so much as I have always wanted you to attack every day of your brief bright life in struggle. The people who must believe they are white can never be your measuring stick. I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world. —
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
the people who could author the mechanized death of our ghettos, the mass rape of private prisons, then engineer their own forgetting, must inevitably plunder much more. This is not a belief in prophecy but in the seductiveness of cheap gasoline. Once, the Dream’s parameters were caged by technology and by the limits of horsepower and wind. But the Dreamers have improved themselves, and the damming of seas for voltage, the extraction of coal, the transmuting of oil into food, have enabled an expansion in plunder with no known precedent. And this revolution has freed the Dreamers to plunder not just the bodies of humans but the body of the Earth itself. The Earth is not our creation. It has no respect for us. It has no use for us. And its vengeance is not the fire in the cities but the fire in the sky. Something more fierce than Marcus Garvey is riding on the whirlwind. Something more awful than all our African ancestors is rising with the seas. The two phenomena are known to each other. It was the cotton that passed through our chained hands that inaugurated this age. It is the flight from us that sent them sprawling into the subdivided woods. And the methods of transport through these new subdivisions, across the sprawl, is the automobile, the noose around the neck of the earth, and ultimately, the Dreamers themselves.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law.’ This is the foundation of the Dream--its adherents must not just believe in it but believe that it is just, believe that their possession of the Dream is the natural result of grit, honor, and good works. There is some passing acknowledgment of the bad old days, which, by the way, were not so bad as to have any ongoing effect on our present. The mettle that it takes to look away from the horror of our prison system, from police forces transformed into armies, from the long war against the black body, is not forged overnight. This is the practiced habit of jabbing out one’s eyes and forgetting the work of one’s hands. To acknowledge these horrors means turning away from the brightly rendered version of your country as it has always declared itself and turning toward something murkier and unknown. Its is still too difficult for most Americans to do this. But that is your work. It must be, if only to preserve the sanctity of your mind.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
And still I urge you to struggle. Struggle for the memory of your ancestors. Struggle for wisdom. Struggle for the warmth of The Mecca. Struggle for your grandmother and grandfather, for your name. But do not struggle for the Dreamers. Hope for them. Pray for them, if you are so moved. But do not pin your struggle on their conversion. The Dreamers will have to learn to struggle themselves, to understand that the field for their Dream, the stage where they have painted themselves white, is the deathbed of us all. The Dream is the same habit that endangers the planet, the same habit that sees our bodies stowed away in prisons and ghettos.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
I do not claim to have loved Sophia then, though I thought I did. I was young and love to me was a fuse that was lit, not a garden that was grown. Love was not concerned with any deep knowledge of its object, of their wants and dreams, but mainly with the joy felt in their presence and the sickness felt in their departure.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Water Dancer)
I am sorry that I cannot make it okay. I am sorry that I cannot save you - but not that sorry. Part of me thinks that your very vulnerability brings you closer to the meaning of life, just as for others, the quest to believe oneself white divides them from it. The fact is that despite their dreams, their lives are also not inviolable. When their own vulnerability becomes real - when the police decide that tactics intended for the ghetto should enjoy wider usage, when their armed society shoots down their children, when nature sends hurricanes against their cities - they are shocked in a way that those of us who were born and bred to understand cause and effect can never be. And I would not have you live like them. You have been cast into a race in which the wind is always at your face and the hounds are always at your heels. And to varying degrees this is true of all life. The difference is that you do not have the privilege of living in ignorance of this essential fact.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
From hip-hop, I drew my earliest sense of what writing should mean. Grammar was never the point. Grammar was for the schoolmen and their television dreams. Out here, in the concrete and real, sentences should be supernatural, words strung together until they compelled any listener to repeat them at odd hours, long after the bass line had died. And these sentences or bars, linked together into verses, should have a shading and mood that reflected their origins in slavery and struggle. The sentence might be magical, but the magic was never sentimental. It was born from the want of all that exceeded the slave’s grasp and the exploration of all that divided that grasp from its desire.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
You and I, my son, are that “below.” That was true in 1776. It is true today. There is no them without you, and without the right to break you they must necessarily fall from the mountain, lose their divinity, and tumble out of the Dream. And then they would have to determine how to build their suburbs on something other than human bones, how to angle their jails toward something other than a human stockyard, how to erect a democracy independent of cannibalism. But because they believe themselves to be white, they would rather countenance a man choked to death on film under their laws. And they would rather subscribe to the myth of Trayvon Martin, slight teenager, hands full of candy and soft drinks, transforming into a murderous juggernaut. And they would rather see Prince Jones followed by a bad cop through three jurisdictions and shot down for acting like a human. And they would rather reach out, in all their sanity, and push my four-year-old son as though he were merely an obstacle in the path of their too-important day.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The most powerful country in the world has handed over all of it's affairs, the prosperity of an entire economy, the security of some 300 million citizens, the purity of it's water, the viability of it's air, the safety of it's food, the future of it's vast system of education, the soundness of it's national highways, airways, and railways, the apocalyptic potential of nuclear arsenal to a carnival barker who introduce the phrase "grab em by the pussy", into the national lexicon. It is as if the white tribe united in demonstration to say "if a black man can be president than any white man, no matter how fallen, can be president", and in that perverse way, the democratic dreams of Jefferson and Jackson were fulfilled. The American Tragedy now being wrought, is larger than most imaged and will not end with Trump. In recent times, whiteness as an overt political tactic has been restrained by a kind of cordiality held that it's overt invocation would scare off moderate whites. This has proved to be only half-true at best. Trump's legacy will be exposing the patina of decency for what it is and revealing just how much a demagague can get away with. It does not take much to imagine another politician, wiser in the ways of Washington, schooled in the methodology of governance, now liberated from the pretense of anti-racist civility, doing a much more effective job than Trump.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
Once, the Dream's parameters were caged by technology and by the limits of horsepower and wind. But the Dreamers have improved themselves, and the damming of seas for voltage, the extraction of coal, the transmuting of oil into food, have enabled an expansion in plunder with no known precedent. And this revolution has freed the Dreamers to plunder no just the bodies of humans but the body of Earth itself. The Earth is not our creation. It has no respect for us. It has no use for us. And its vengeance is not the fire in the cities but the fire in the sky. Something more fierce than Marcus Garvey is riding on the whirlwind. Something more awful than all our African ancestors is rising with the seas.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Make the race proud," the elders used to say. But by then, I knew that I wasn't so much bound by a biological race as to a group of people, and these people were not black because of any uniform color or any uniform physical feature. They were bound because they suffered under the weight of the dream, and they were bound by all the beautiful things, all the language and mannerisms, all the food and music, all the literature and philosophy, all the common language that they had fashioned like diamonds under the weight of the dream. ... In other words, I was part of a world. And looking out, I had friends who too were part of other worlds. The world of Jews, or New Yorkers. The world of southerners or gay men. Of immigrants, of Californians, of Native Americans, or a combination of any of these worlds stitched into worlds like tapestry. And though I could never myself be a native of any of these worlds, I knew that nothing so essentialist as race stood between us. I had read too much by then, and my eyes, my beautiful precious eyes, were growing stronger each day. And I saw that what divided me from the world was not anything intrinsic to us, but the actual injury done by people intent on naming us. Intent on believing that what they have named us matters more than anything we could ever actually do. In America, the injury is not in being born with darker skin, with fuller lips, with a broader nose, but in everything that happens after.
Ta-Nehisi Coates
I had not yet been to Gettysburg. I had not read Thavolia Glymph. All I had was the feeling, the weight. I did not yet know, and I do not fully know now. But part of what I know ist hat there is the burden of living among Dreamers, and there is the extra burden of your country telling you the Dream is just, noble, and real, and you are crazy for seeing the corruption and smelling the sulfur. For their innocence, they nullify your anger, your fear, until you are coming and going, and you find yourself inveighing against yourself - "black people are the only people who..." - really inveighing against your own humanity and raging against the crime in your ghetto, because you are powerless before the great crime of history that brought the ghettos to be.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
There is no them without you, and without the right to break you they must necessarily fall from the mountain, lose their divinity, and tumble out of the Dream. And then they would have to determine how to build their suburbs on something other than human bones, how to angle their jails toward something other than a human stockyard, how to erect a democracy independent of cannibalism. But
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
There were distinct advantages to black atheism, to a disbelief in dreams and moral appeal. First, it removed the weight of believing that “white people,” en masse, were interested listeners. “White people,” en masse, are not. They are—like any other people—mostly self-interested, which is why mass appeals to conscience, minus some compelling, existential threat, generally end in disappointment.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
Terrorism carried the day. Federal troops withdrew from the South in 1877. The dream of Reconstruction died. For the next century, political violence was visited upon blacks wantonly, with special treatment meted out toward black people of ambition. Black schools and churches were burned to the ground. Black voters and the political candidates who attempted to rally them were intimidated, and some were murdered.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
I stayed up late that night peering up at the rafters, thinking on Thena’s words. A beautiful woman, the kindest heart, did not gossip, kept to herself. I added this to the memories of her I’d collected from the people on the Street. Thena could not know how much I needed those small jigsaws of my mother, which together, over the years, I forged into a portrait of the woman who lived in dreams, like Big John, but only as smoke.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Water Dancer)
When the journalist asked me about my body, it was like she was asking me to awaken her from the most gorgeous dream. I have seen that dream all my life... The Dream smells like peppermint but tastes like strawberry shortcake. And for so long I have wanted to escape into the dream, to fold my country over my head like a blanket. But this has never been an option because the Dream rests on our backs, the bedding made from our bodies.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Think of all the love poured into him. Think of the tuitions for Montessori and music lessons. Think of the gasoline expended, the treads worn carting him to football games, basketball tournaments, and Little League. Think of the time spent regulating sleepovers. Think of the surprise birthday parties, the daycare, and the reference checks on babysitters. Think of World Book and Childcraft. Think of checks written for family photos. Think of credit cards charged for vacations. Think of soccer balls, science kits, chemistry sets, racetracks, and model trains. Think of all the embraces, all the private jokes, customs, greetings, names, dreams, all the shared knowledge and capacity of a black family injected into that vessel of flesh and bone. And think of how that vessel was taken, shattered on the concrete, and all its holy contents, all that had gone into him, sent flowing back to the earth. Think of your mother, who had no father. And your grandmother, who was abandoned by her father. And your grandfather, who was left behind by his father. And think of how Prince's daughter was now drafted into those solemn ranks and deprived of her birthright — that vessel which was her father, which brimmed with twenty-five years of love and was the investment of her grandparents and was to be her legacy.
Ta-Nehisi Coates
But do not struggle for the Dreamers. Hope for them. Pray for them, if you are so moved. But do not pin your struggle on their conversion. The Dreamers will have to learn to struggle themselves, to understand that the field for their Dream, the stage where they have painted themselves white, is the deathbed of us all. The Dream is the same habit that endangers the planet, the same habit that sees our bodies stowed away in prisons and ghettos.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Obama himself, underestimating Trump and thus underestimating the power of whiteness, believed the Republican nominee too objectionable to actually win. In this Obama was, tragically, wrong. And so the most powerful country in the world has handed over all of its affairs—the prosperity of an entire economy, the security of some 300 million citizens, the purity of its water, the viability of its air, the safety of its food, the future of its vast system of education, the soundness of its national highways, airways, and railways, the apocalyptic potential of its nuclear arsenal—to a carnival barker who introduced the phrase “grab ’em by the pussy” into the national lexicon. It is as if the white tribe united in demonstration to say, “If a black man can be president, then any white man—no matter how fallen—can be president.” And in that perverse way the democratic dreams of Jefferson and Jackson were fulfilled.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
Even then, I was dreaming of Raistlin's black robes one moment, and Dorsett's spin move the next. This was what my father deeded--that our Knowledge of Self be more than America, that we understand the brain death that sprawled from the projects to the subdivisions. Consciousness was a beginning, but the imagination could turn straight 18s into paladins in plate, could make warrens in tunnels from graph paper, could pull armies of gnolls from miniatures--that was the Knowledge that ultimately would find a way out.
Ta-Nehisi Coates
France is built on its own dream, on its collection of bodies, and recall that your very name is drawn from a man who opposed France and its national project of theft by colonization. It is true that our color was not our distinguishing feature there, so much as the Americanness represented in our poor handle on French. And it is true that there is something particular about how the Americans who think they are white regard us—something sexual and obscene. We were not enslaved in France. We are not their particular “problem,” nor their national guilt. We are not their niggers.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
There are no racists in America, or at least none that the people who need to be white know personally. In the era of mass lynching, it was so difficult to find who, specifically, served as executioner that such deaths were often reported by the press as having happened “at the hands of persons unknown.” In 1957, the white residents of Levittown, Pennsylvania, argued for their right to keep their town segregated. “As moral, religious and law-abiding citizens.” the group wrote, “we feel that we are unprejudiced and undiscriminating in our wish to keep our community a closed community.” This was the attempt to commit a shameful act while escaping all sanction, and I raise it to show you that there was no golden era when evildoers did their business and loudly proclaimed it as such. “We would prefer to say that such people cannot exist, that there aren’t any,” writes Solzhenitsyn. “To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law.” This is the foundation of the Dream—its adherents must not just believe in it but believe that it is just, believe that their possession of the Dream is the natural result of grit, honor, and good works. There
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
And it became clear that this was not just for the dreams concocted by Americans to justify themselves but also for the dreams that I had conjured to replace them. I had thought that I must mirror the outside world, create a carbon copy of white claims to civilization. It was beginning to occur to me to question the logic of the claim itself. I had forgotten my own self-interrogations pushed upon me by my mother, or rather I had not yet apprehended their deeper, lifelong meaning. I was only beginning to learn to be wary of my own humanity, of my own hurt and anger—I didn’t yet realize that the boot on your neck is just as likely to make you delusional as it is to ennoble.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
All of these heroes had failed to cajole and coerce the masters of America. Their ambition of a better world had been frustrated. This was the story of my ancestors, the story I expected for myself. These were not stories of hope, but were they without import? If Celia, Margaret, and Ida had failed to help the country at large locate its morality, they had succeeded in living by their own. And that was all they could control. Within the small and narrow frame of their own lives, all they had was their own conscience, their own story. The lessons they passed down were not about an abstract hope, an unknowable dream. They were about the power and necessity of immediate defiance.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
I am speaking to you as I always have—as the sober and serious man I have always wanted you to be, who does not apologize for his human feelings, who does not make excuses for his height, his long arms, his beautiful smile. You are growing into consciousness, and my wish for you is that you feel no need to constrict yourself to make other people comfortable. None of that can change the math anyway. I never wanted you to be twice as good as them, so much as I have always wanted you to attack every day of your brief bright life in struggle. The people who must believe they are white can never be your measuring stick. I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The killing fields of Chicago, of Baltimore, of Detroit, were created by the policy of Dreamers, but their weight, their shame, rests solely upon those who are dying in them. There is a great deception in this. To yell “black-on-black crime” is to shoot a man and then shame him for bleeding. And the premise that allows for these killing fields—the reduction of the black body—is no different than the premise that allowed for the murder of Prince Jones. The Dream of acting white, of talking white, of being white, murdered Prince Jones as sure as it murders black people in Chicago with frightening regularity. Do not accept the lie. Do not drink from poison. The same hands that drew red lines around the life of Prince Jones drew red lines around the ghetto.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The Dreamers accept this as the cost of doing business, accept our bodies as currency, because it is their tradition. As slaves we were this country’s first windfall, the down payment on its freedom. After the ruin and liberation of the Civil War came Redemption for the unrepentant South and Reunion, and our bodies became this country’s second mortgage. In the New Deal we were their guestroom, their finished basement. And today, with a sprawling prison system, which has turned the warehousing of black bodies into a jobs program for Dreamers and a lucrative investment for Dreamers; today, when 8 percent of the world’s prisoners are black men, our bodies have refinanced the Dream of being white. Black life is cheap, but in America black bodies are a natural resource of incomparable value.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The two great divisions of society are not the rich and poor, but white and black," said the great South Carolina senator John C. Calhoun. "And all the former, the poor as well as the rich, belong to the upper class, and are respected and treated as equals." And there it is--the right to break the black body as a meaning of their sacred equality. And that right has always given them meaning, has always meant that there was someone down in the valley because a mountain is not a mountain if there is nothing below.* You and I, my son, are that "below." That was true in 1776. It is true today. There is no them without you, and without the right to break you they must necessarily fall from the mountain, lose their divinity, and tumble out of the Dream. * Thavolia Glymph, Out of the House of Bondage.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The power is not divinity but a deep knowledge of how fragile everything—even the Dream, especially the Dream—really is. Sitting in that car I thought of Dr. Jones’s predictions of national doom. I had heard such predictions all my life from Malcolm and all his posthumous followers who hollered that the Dreamers must reap what they sow. I saw the same prediction in the words of Marcus Garvey who promised to return in a whirlwind of vengeful ancestors, an army of Middle Passage undead. No. I left The Mecca knowing that this was all too pat, knowing that should the Dreamers reap what they had sown, we would reap it right with them. Plunder has matured into habit and addiction; the people who could author the mechanized death of our ghettos, the mass rape of private prisons, then engineer their own forgetting, must inevitably plunder much more. This is not a belief in prophecy but in the seductiveness of cheap gasoline.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Your route will be different. It must be. You knew things at eleven that I did not know when I was twenty-five. When I was eleven my highest priority was the simple security of my body. My life was the immediate negotiation of violence - within my house and without. But already you have expectations, I see that in you. Survival and safety are not enough. Your hopes - your dreams, if you will - leave me with an array of warring emotions. I am so very proud of you - your openness, your ambition, your aggression, your intelligence. My job, in the little time we have left together, is to match that intelligence with wisdom. Part of that wisdom is understanding what you were given - a city where gay bars are unremarkable, a soccer team on which half the players speak some other language. What I am saying is that it does not all belong to you, that the beauty in you is not strictly yours and is largely the result of enjoying an abnormal amount of security in your black body.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
And it occurred to me then that you would not escape, that there were awful men who’d laid plans for you, and I could not stop them. Prince Jones was the superlative of all my fears.And if he, good Christian, scion of a striving class, patron saint of the twice as good, could be forever bound, who then could not? And the plunder was not just of Prince alone. Think of all the love poured into him. Think of the tuitions for Montessori and music lessons. Think of the gasoline expended, the treads worn carting him to football games, basketball tournaments, and Little League. Think of the time spent regulating sleepovers. Think of the surprise birthday parties, the daycare, and the reference checks on babysitters. Think of World Book and Childcraft. Think of checks written for family photos. Think of credit cards charged for vacations. Think of soccer balls, science kits, chemistry sets, racetracks, and model trains. Think of all the embraces, all the private jokes, customs, greetings, names, dreams, all the shared knowledge and capacity of a black family injected into that vessel of flesh and bone. And think of how that vessel was taken, shattered on the concrete, and all its holy contents, all that had gone into him, sent flowing back to the earth.
Ta-Nehisi Coates
A legacy of plunder, a network of laws and traditions, a heritage, a Dream, murdered Prince Jones as sure as it murders black people in North Lawndale with frightening regularity. “Black-on-black crime” is jargon, violence to language, which vanishes the men who engineered the covenants, who fixed the loans, who planned the projects, who built the streets and sold red ink by the barrel. And this should not surprise us. The plunder of black life was drilled into this country in its infancy and reinforced across its history, so that plunder has become an heirloom, an intelligence, a sentience, a default setting to which, likely to the end of our days, we must invariably return. The killing fields of Chicago, of Baltimore, of Detroit, were created by the policy of Dreamers, but their weight, their shame, rests solely upon those who are dying in them. There is a great deception in this. To yell “black-on-black crime” is to shoot a man and then shame him for bleeding. And the premise that allows for these killing fields—the reduction of the black body—is no different than the premise that allowed for the murder of Prince Jones. The Dream of acting white, of talking white, of being white, murdered Prince Jones as sure as it murders black people in Chicago with frightening regularity. Do not accept the lie. Do not drink from poison. The same hands that drew red lines around the life of Prince Jones drew red lines around the ghetto.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
today, when 8 percent of the world’s prisoners are black men, our bodies have refinanced the Dream of being white. Black life is cheap, but in America black bodies are a natural resource of incomparable value.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
And I was sorry that I had never felt this particular loneliness before—that I had never felt myself so far outside of someone else’s dream. Now I felt the deeper weight of my generational chains—my body confined, by history and policy, to certain zones. Some of us make it out. But the game is played with loaded dice. I wished I had known more, and I wished I had known it sooner.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The forgetting is habit, is yet another necessary component of the Dream. They have forgotten the scale of theft that enriched them in slavery; the terror that allowed them, for a century, to pilfer the vote; the segregationist policy that gave them their suburbs. They have forgotten, because to remember would tumble them out of the beautiful Dream and force them to live down here with us, down here in the world.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
President Obama’s friend and counselor Ta-Nehisi Coates, from his perch atop the bestseller lists and at the pinnacle of power in America, denounces the American Dream, in terms that echo Obama’s previous spiritual guide, Pastor Wright in Chicago, as a “genocidal weight of whiteness.
George Gilder (The Scandal of Money: Why Wall Street Recovers but the Economy Never Does)
You and I, my son, are that "below." That was true in 1776. It is true today. There is no them without you, and without the right to break you they must necessarily fall from the mountain, lose their divinity, and tumble out of the Dream.
Ta-Nehisi Coates
The changes have awarded me a rapture that comes only when you can no longer be lied to, when you have rejected the Dream.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
When the journalist asked me about my body, it was like she was asking me to awaken her from the most gorgeous dream. I have seen that dream all my life. It is perfect houses with nice lawns. It is Memorial Day cookouts, block associations, and driveways. The Dream is treehouses and the Cub Scouts. The Dream smells like peppermint but tastes like strawberry shortcake. And for so long I have wanted to escape into the Dream, to fold my country over my head like a blanket. But this has never been an option because the Dream rests on our backs, the bedding made from our bodies.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
And she could not lean on her country for help. When it came to her son, Dr. Jones's country did what it does best-- it forgot him. The forgetting is habit, is yet another necessary component of the Dream. They have forgotten the scale of theft that enriched them in slavery; the terror that allowed them, for a century, to pilfer the vote; the segregationist policy that gave them their suburbs. They have forgotten, because to remember would tumble them out of the beautiful Dream and force them to live down here with us, down here in the world. I am convinced that the Dreamers, at least the Dreamers of today, would rather live white than live free. In the Dream they are Buck Rogers, Prince Aragorn, an entire race of Skywalkers. To awaken them is to reveal that they are an empire of humans and, like all empires of humans, are built on the destruction of the body. It is to stain their nobility, to make them vulnerable, fallible, breakable humans.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
This is the foundation of the Dream—its adherents must not just believe in it but believe that it is just, believe that their possession of the Dream is the natural result of grit, honor, and good works
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The Dreamers will have to learn to struggle themselves, to understand that the field for their Dream, the stage where they have painted themselves white, is the deathbed of us all. The Dream is the same habit that endangers the planet, the same habit that sees our bodies stowed away in prisons and ghettos. I saw these ghettos driving back from Dr. Jones’s home. They were the same ghettos I had seen in Chicago all those years ago, the same ghettos where my mother was raised, where my father was raised. Through the windshield I saw the mark of these ghettos—the abundance of beauty shops, churches, liquor stores, and crumbling housing—and I felt the old fear. Through the windshield I saw the rain coming down in sheet
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The Dream smells like peppermint but tastes like strawberry shortcake. And for so long I have wanted to escape into the Dream, to fold my country over my head like a blanket. But this has never been an option because the Dream rests on our backs, the bedding made from our bodies. And knowing this, knowing that the Dream persists by warring with the known world, I was sad for the host.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
And today, with a sprawling prison system, which has turned the warehousing of black bodies into a jobs program for Dreamers and a lucrative investment for Dreamers; today, when 8 percent of the world’s prisoners are black men, our bodies have refinanced the Dream of being white. Black life is cheap, but in America black bodies are a natural resource of incomparable value.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The writer, and that was what I was becoming, must be wary of every Dream and every nation, even his own nation. Perhaps his own nation more than any other, precisely because it was his own. I
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
the Dreamers of today, would rather live white than live free. In the Dream they are Buck Rogers, Prince Aragorn, an entire race of Skywalkers. To awaken them is to reveal that they are an empire of humans and,
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
When the journalist asked me about my body, it was like she was asking me to awaken her from the most gorgeous dream.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
When it came to her son, Dr. Jones’s country did what it does best—it forgot him. The forgetting is habit, is yet another necessary component of the Dream. They have forgotten the scale of theft that enriched them in slavery; the terror that allowed them, for a century, to pilfer the vote; the segregationist policy that gave them their suburbs.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The Dreamers will have to learn to struggle themselves, to understand that the field for their Dream, the stage where they have painted themselves white, is the deathbed of us all.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)