Ta Nehisi Coates Racism Quotes

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You are growing into consciousness, and my wish for you is that you feel no need to constrict yourself to make other people comfortable.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
But race is the child of racism, not the father.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
But race is the child of racism, not the father. And the process of naming “the people” has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy. Difference in hue and hair is old. But the belief in the preeminence of hue and hair, the notion that these factors can correctly organize a society and that they signify deeper attributes, which are indelible—this is the new idea at the heart of these new people who have been brought up hopelessly, tragically, deceitfully, to believe that they are white.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
But all our phrasing—race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy—serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this. You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body.
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)
I did not tell you that it would be okay, because I have never believed it would be okay. What I told you is what your grandparents tried to tell me: that this is your country, that this is your world, that this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
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)
In those days I imagined racism as a tumor that could be isolated and removed from the body of America, not as a pervasive system both native and essential to that body. From that perspective, it seemed possible that the success of one man really could alter history, or even end it.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
But that is the point of white supremacy--to ensure that that which all others achieve with maximal effort, white people (and particularly white men) achieve with minimal qualification.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
It is hard to face this. But all our phrasing—race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy—serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this. You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Racism is, among other things, the unearned skepticism of one group of humans joined to the unearned sympathy for another.
Ta-Nehisi Coates
There is a notion out there that black people enjoy the Sisyphean struggle against racism. In fact, most of us live for the day when we can struggle against anything else. But having been, by that very racism, pinned into ghettoes, both metaphorical and real, our options for struggle are chosen long before we are born. And so we struggle out of fear for our children. We struggle out of fear for ourselves. We struggle to avoid our feelings, because to actually consider all that was taken, to understand that it was taken systematically, that the taking is essential to America and echoes down through the ages, could make you crazy.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
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)
We invoke the words of Jefferson and Lincoln because they say something about our legacy and our traditions. We do this because we recognize our links to the past--at least when they flatter us. But black history does not flatter American democracy; it chastens it. The popular mocking of reparations as a harebrained scheme authored by wild-eyed lefties and intellectually unserious black nationalists is fear masquerading as laughter. Black nationalists have always perceived something unmentionable about America that integrationists dare not acknowledge --that white supremacy is not merely the work of hotheaded demagogues, or a matter of false consciousness, but a force so fundamental to America that it is difficult to imagine the country without it.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
It is truly horrible to understand yourself as the essential below of your country. It breaks too much of what we would like to think about ourselves, our lives, the world we move through and the people who surround us. The struggle to understand is our only advantage over this madness.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Perhaps there has been, at some point in history, some great power whose elevation was exempt from the violent exploitation of other human bodies. If there has been, I have yet to discover it. But this banality of violence can never excuse America, because America makes no claim to the banal. America believes itself exceptional, the greatest and noblest nation ever to exist, a lone champion standing between the white city of democracy and the terrorists, despots, barbarians, and other enemies of civilization. One cannot, at once, claim to be superhuman and then plead mortal error. I propose to take our countrymen's claims of American exceptionalism seriously, which is to say I propose subjecting our country to an exceptional moral standard. This is difficult because there exists, all around us, an apparatus urging us to accept American innocence at face value and not to inquire too much. And it is so easy to look away, to live with the fruits of our history and to ignore the great evil done in all of our names.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The precise ancestry of a black drug dealer or cop killer is irrelevant. His blackness predicts and explains his crime. He reinforces the racist presumption. It is only when that presumption is questioned that a fine analysis of ancestry is invoked. Frederick Douglass was an ordinary nigger while working the fields. But as a famed abolitionist, it was often said that his genius must derive from his white half.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
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
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.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
When President Roosevelt signed Social Security into law in 1935, 65 percent of African Americans nationally and between 70 and 80 percent in the South were ineligible.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Un conto ancora aperto)
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
When it comes to the Civil War, all of our popular understanding, our popular history and culture, our great films, the subtext of our arguments are in defiance of its painful truths. It is not a mistake that Gone with the Wind is one of the most read works of American literature or that The Birth of a Nation is the most revered touchstone of all American film. Both emerge from a need for palliatives and painkillers, an escape from the truth of those five short years in which 750,000 American soldiers were killed, more than all American soldiers killed in all other American wars combined, in a war declared for the cause of expanding "African slavery." That war was inaugurated not reluctantly, but lustily, by men who believed property in humans to be the cornerstone of civilization, to be an edict of God, and so delivered their own children to his maw. And when that war was done, the now-defeated God lived on, honored through the human sacrifice of lynching and racist pogroms. The history breaks the myth. And so the history is ignored, and fictions are weaved into our art and politics that dress villainy in martyrdom and transform banditry into chivalry, and so strong are these fictions that their emblem, the stars and bars, darkens front porches and state capitol buildings across the land to this day.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
Our current politics tell you that should you fall victim to such an assault and lose your body, it must somehow be your fault. Trayvon Martin’s hoodie got him killed. Jordan Davis’s loud music did the same.
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)
But race is the child of racism, not the father. And the process of naming 'the people' has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy. Difference in hue and hair is old. But belief in the preeminence of hue and hair, the belief that these factors can correctly organize a society and that they signify deeper attributes , which are indelible--this is the new idea at the heart of these new people who have been brought up hopelessly, tragically, to believe that they are white. These people are, like us, a modern invention. But unlike us, their new name has no real meaning divorced from the machinery of criminal power. The new people were something else before they were white--Catholic, Corsican, Welsh, Mennonite, Jewish--and if all our national hopes have any fulfillment, then they will have to be something else again. Perhaps they will truly become American and create a nobler basis for their myths. I cannot call it. As for now, it must be said that the process of washing the disparate tribes white, was not achieved through wine tasting and ice cream socials, but rather through the pillaging of life, liberty, labor, and land; through the flaying of backs; the chaining of limbs; the strangling of dissidents; the destruction of families; the rape of mothers; the sale of children; and various other acts meant, first and foremost, to you and me the right to secure and govern our own bodies.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
In this way, racism is rendered as the innocent daughter of Mother Nature, and one is left to deplore the Middle Passage or the Trail of Tears the way one deplores an earthquake, a tornado, or any other phenomenon that can be cast as beyond the handiwork of men.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The loudest of doomsayers, so often, carry the weightiest of sin.
Ta-Nehisi Coates
There are no racists in America, or at least none that the people who need to be white know personally.
Ta-Nehisi Coates
The popular mocking of reparations as a harebrained scheme authored by wild-eyed lefties and intellectually unserious black nationalists is fear masquerading as laughter.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Un conto ancora aperto)
Should assaulting an officer of the state be a capital offense, rendered without trial, with the officer as judge and executioner? Is that what we wish civilization to be?
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Won't reparations divide us? Not any more than we are already divided. The wealth gap merely puts a number on something we feel but cannot say - that American propserity was ill-gotten and selective in its distribution. What is needed is an airing of family secrets, a settling with old ghosts. What is needed is a healing of the American psyche and the banishment of white guilt.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Un conto ancora aperto)
Americans believe in the reality of “race” as a defined, indubitable feature of the natural world. Racism—the need to ascribe bone-deep features to people and then humiliate, reduce, and destroy them—inevitably follows from this inalterable condition. In this way, racism is rendered as the innocent daughter of Mother Nature, and one is left to deplore the Middle Passage or the Trail of Tears the way one deplores an earthquake, a tornado, or any other phenomenon that can be cast as beyond the handiwork of men.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others. Black America ever lives under that skeptical eye. Hence the old admonishments to be “twice as good.” Hence the need for a special “talk” administered to black boys about how to be extra careful when relating to the police.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
One strain of African American thought holds that it is a violent black recklessness—the black gangster, the black rioter—that strikes the ultimate terror in white America. Perhaps it does, in the most individual sense. But in the collective sense, what this country really fears is black respectability, Good Negro Government. It applauds, even celebrates, Good Negro Government in the unthreatening abstract—The Cosby Show, for instance. But when it becomes clear that Good Negro Government might, in any way, empower actual Negroes over actual whites, then the fear sets in, the affirmative-action charges begin, and birtherism emerges.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
Liberals today mostly view racism not as an active, distinct evil but as a relative of white poverty and inequality. They ignore the long tradition of this country actively punishing black success—and the elevation of that punishment, in the mid-twentieth century, to federal policy.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
But all our phrasing—race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy—serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
By the time I visited those battlefields, I knew that they had been retrofitted as the staging ground for a great deception, and this was my only security, because they could no longer insult me by lying to me. I knew—and the most important thing I knew was that, somewhere deep with them, they knew too. I like to think that knowing might have kept me from endangering you, that having understood and acknowledged the anger, I could control it. I like to think that it could have allowed me to speak the needed words to the woman and then walk away. I like to think this, but I can’t promise it. The struggle is really all I have for you because it is the only portion of this world under your control.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
America's indispensable working class existed as property beyond the realm of politics, leaving white Americans free to trumpet their love of freedom and democratic values.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Un conto ancora aperto)
I did not tell you it would be okay because I never believed it would be okay.
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Racism was banditry, pure and simple. And the banditry was not incidental to America, it was essential to it.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
I have no God to hold me up. And I believe that when they shatter the body they shatter everything, and I knew that all of us—Christians, Muslims, atheists—lived in this fear of this truth.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
A separate society within America would depend on the mechanisms of American wealth creation, and wealth in America has never been created in absence of government policy, of banks willing to lend and a justice system willing to protect, and so this separatist nationalism revealed itself to be as flawed as integration, in that it, too, ultimately depended on the good graces of white people.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
To be black in the Baltimore of my youth was to be naked before the elements of the world, before all the guns, fists, knives, crack, rape, and disease. The nakedness is not an error, nor pathology. The nakedness is the correct and intended result of policy, the predictable upshot of people forced for centuries to live under fear, The law did not protect us. And now, in your time, the law has become an excuse for stopping and frisking you, which is to say, for furthering the assault on your body, But a society that protects some people through a safety net of schools, government-backed home loans, and ancestral wealth but can only protect you with a club of criminal justice has either failed at enforcing its good intentions or has succeeded at something much darker. However you call it, the result was our infirmity before the criminal forces of the world. It does not matter if the agent of those forces is white or black—what matters is our condition, what matters is the system that makes your body breakable.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
There's a liberal story that limited opportunities, and barriers, lead to employment problems and criminal records, but then there's another story that has to do with norms, behaviors, and oppositional culture. You can't prove the latter statistically, but it still might be true.' Holzer thinks that both arguments contain truth and that one doesn't preclude the other. Fair enough. Suffice it to say, though, that the evidence supporting structural inequality is compelling. In 2001, a researcher sent out black and white job applicants in Milwaukee, randomly assigning them a criminal record. The researcher concluded that a white man with a criminal record had about the same chance of getting a job as a black man without one. Three years later, researchers produced the same results in New York under more rigorous conditions.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
My enlightened racial consciousness demands that I reject the so-called greatness of William Faulkner and William Shakespeare. I don't have time for any of that Hamlet jive -- but Marvel superheroes are super cool.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Let us once again be clear: if we oppose violence, then we must oppose all forms of policing. If we oppose violence, then we must call for an end to war, an end to occupation. We must oppose sexual assault, and prisons as institutions that wield it as a strategic tool. If we abhor violence to bodies, families, and communities, then we should abhor all these systems and call for their immediate abolition. As Ta-Nehisi Coates said so perfectly in his Atlantic piece "Nonviolence as Compliance," "When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con." In Support of Baltimore; or, Smashing Police Cars Is Logical Political Strategy
Benji Hart
Americans believe in the reality of “race” as a defined, indubitable feature of the natural world. Racism—the need to ascribe bone-deep features to people and then humiliate, reduce, and destroy them—inevitably follows from this inalterable condition.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The “rising tide” theory rested on a notion of separate but equal class ladders. And so there was a class of black poor and an equivalent class of white poor, a black middle class and a white middle class, a black elite and a white elite. From this angle, the race problem was merely the result of too many blacks being found at the bottom of their ladder—too many who were poor and too few who were able to make their way to the next rung. If one could simply alter the distribution, the old problem of “race” could be solved. But any investigation into the actual details revealed that the ladders themselves were not equal—that to be a member of the “black race” in America had specific, quantifiable consequences. Not only did poor blacks tend to be much less likely to advance up their ladder, but those who did stood a much greater likelihood of tumbling back. That was because the middle-class rung of the black ladder lacked the financial stability enjoyed by the white ladder. Whites in the middle class often brought with them generational wealth—the home of a deceased parent, a modest inheritance, a gift from a favorite uncle. Blacks in the middle class often brought with them generational debt—an incarcerated father, an evicted niece, a mother forced to take in her sister’s kids. And these conditions, themselves, could not be separated out from the specific injury of racism, one that was not addressed by simply moving up a rung. Racism was not a singular one-dimensional vector but a pandemic, afflicting black communities at every level, regardless of what rung they occupied. From that point forward the case for reparations seemed obvious and the case against it thin. The sins of slavery did not stop with slavery. On the contrary, slavery was but the initial crime in a long tradition of crimes, of plunder even, that could be traced into the present day. And whereas a claim for reparations for slavery rested in the ancestral past, it was now clear that one could make a claim on behalf of those who were very much alive.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
As Ta-Nehisi Coates states, “But race is the child of racism, not the father.”6 He means that first we exploited people for their resources, not according to how they looked. Exploitation came first, and then the ideology of unequal races to justify this exploitation followed.
Robin DiAngelo (White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism)
The civil rights generation is exiting the American stage—not in a haze of nostalgia but in a cloud of gloom, troubled by the persistence of racism, the apparent weaknesses of the generation following in its wake, and the seeming indifference of much of the country to black America’s fate.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
There is a notion out there that black people enjoy the Sisyphean struggle against racism. In fact, most of us live for the day when we can struggle against anything else. But having been, by that very racism, pinned into ghettos, both metaphorical and real, our options for struggle are chosen long before we are born.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
In 2001, the Associated Press published a three-part investigation into the theft of black-owned land stretching back to the antebellum period. The series documented some 406 victims and 24,000 acres of land values at tends of millions of dollars. The land was taken through means ranging from legal chicanery to terrorism.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Un conto ancora aperto)
Through The Mecca I saw that we were, in our own segregated body politic, cosmopolitans. The black diaspora was not just our own world but, in so many ways, the Western world itself. Now, the heirs of those Virginia planters could never directly acknowledge this legacy or reckon with its power. And so that beauty that Malcolm pledged us to protect, black beauty, was never celebrated in movies, in television, or in the textbooks I’d seen as a child. Everyone of any import, from Jesus to George Washington, was white. This was why your grandparents banned Tarzan and the Lone Ranger and toys with white faces from the house. They were rebelling against the history books that spoke of black people only as sentimental “firsts”—first black five-star general, first black congressman, first black mayor—always presented in the bemused manner of a category of Trivial Pursuit. Serious history was the West, and the West was white. This was all distilled for me in a quote I once read from the novelist Saul Bellow. I can’t remember where I read it, or when—only that I was already at Howard. “Who is the Tolstoy of the Zulus?” Bellow quipped. Tolstoy was “white,” and so Tolstoy “mattered,” like everything else that was white “mattered.” And this view of things was connected to the fear that passed through the generations, to the sense of dispossession. We were black, beyond the visible spectrum, beyond civilization. Our history was inferior because we were inferior, which is to say our bodies were inferior. And our inferior bodies could not possibly be accorded the same respect as those that built the West. Would it not be better, then, if our bodies were civilized, improved, and put to some legitimate Christian use?
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
One cannot escape the question by hand-waving at the past, disavowing the acts of one's ancestors, nor by citing a recent date of ancestral immigration. The last slave holder has been dead for a very long time. The last soldier to endure Valley Forge has been dead much longer. To proudly claim the veteran and disown the slave holder is patriotism á la carte.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
The problem of race is deep and wide and requires seismic change. But if we look to government to solve it, we might as well feel hopeless. If we look corporate America to solve it, we’ll be waiting a long, long time. And if we agree with Ta-Nehisi Coates, who tentatively suggests that “the only work that will matter, will be the work done by us," then we will truly despair, for we know how well that has worked. If we follow that track, we'll quickly add in disbelief, as he did, “Or perhaps not." As I've said, the problem of race is not “out there." It's “in here,” in the human heart. And though there is no task in heaven or on earth more difficult than changing the human heart,I believe in the one who can do it. It requires a supernatural solution. Yes, I believe in God. You see, I know how God can change a person’s heart.
Benjamin Watson
The symbolic power of Barack Obama’s presidency—that whiteness was no longer strong enough to prevent peons from taking up residence in the castle—assaulted the most deeply rooted notions of white supremacy and instilled fear in its adherents and beneficiaries. And it was that fear that gave the symbols Donald Trump deployed—the symbols of racism—enough potency to make him president, and thus put him in position to injure the world.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
The idea of racial inferiority was created to justify unequal treatment; belief in racial inferiority is not what triggered unequal treatment. Nor was fear of difference. As Ta-Nehisi Coates states, “But race is the child of racism, not the father.” He means that first we exploited people for their resources, not according to how they looked. Exploitation came first, and then the ideology of unequal races to justify this exploitation followed.
Robin DiAngelo (White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism)
When political strategists argue that the Republican Party is missing a huge chance to court the black community, they are thinking of this mostly male bloc—the old guy in the barbershop, the grizzled Pop Warner coach, the retired Vietnam vet, the drunk uncle at the family reunion. He votes Democratic, not out of any love for abortion rights or progressive taxation, but because he feels—in fact, he knows—that the modern-day GOP draws on the support of people who hate him.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
We are captured, brother, surrounded by the majoritarian bandits of America. And this has happened here, in our only home, and the terrible truth is that we cannot will ourselves to an escape on our own. Perhaps that was, is, the hope of the movement: to awaken the Dreamers, to rouse them to the facts of what their need to be white, to talk like they are white, to think that they are white, which is to think that they are beyond the design flaws of humanity, has done to the world.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The black world was expanding before me, and I could see now that that world was more than a photonegative of that of the people who believe they are white. "White America" is a syndicate arrayed to protect its exclusive power to dominate and control our bodies. Sometimes this power is direct (lynching), and sometimes it is insidious (redlining). But however it appears, the power of domination and exclusion is central to the belief in being white, and without it, "white people" would cease to exist for want of reasons.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
From the day we touched these stolen shores, he'd explain to anyone who'd listen, they infected our minds. They deployed their phrenologists, their backward Darwinists, and forged a false Knowledge to keep us down. But against this demonology, there were those who battled back. Universities scorned them. Compromised professors scoffed at their names. So they published themselves and hawked their Knowledge at street fairs, churches, and bazaars. For their efforts, they were forgotten. Their great works languished out of print, while those they sought to save grew fat on integration and amnesia.
Ta-Nehisi Coates
I came up in segregated West Baltimore. I understood black as a culture—as Etta James, jumping the broom, the Electric Slide. I understood the history and the politics, the debilitating effects of racism. But I did not understand blackness as a minority until I was an “only,” until I was a young man walking into rooms filled with people who did not look like me. In many ways, segregation protected me—to this day, I’ve never been called a nigger by a white person, and although I know that racism is part of why I define myself as black, I don’t feel that way, any more than I feel that the two oceans define me as American. But in other ways, segregation left me unprepared for the discovery that my world was not the world.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
The FHA had adopted a system of maps that rated neighborhoods according to their perceived stability. On the maps, green areas, rated “A,” indicated “in demand” neighborhoods that, as one appraiser put it, lacked “a single foreigner or Negro.” These neighborhoods were considered excellent prospects for insurance. Neighborhoods where black people lived were rated “D” and were usually considered ineligible for FHA backing. They were colored in red. Neither the percentage of black people living there nor their social class mattered. Black people were viewed as a contagion. Redlining went beyond FHA-backed loans and spread to the entire mortgage industry, which was already rife with racism, excluding black people from most legitimate means of obtaining a mortgage.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
I also saw that those charged with analyzing the import of Obama's blackness were, in the main, working off of an old script. Obama was dubbed "The new Tiger Woods of American Politics," as a man who wasn't exactly black. I understood the point. Obama was not black as these writers understood black. It wasn't just that he wasn't a drug dealer like most black men on the news, but that he did not hail from an inner city, he was not raise on chitlins, his mother had not washed white people's floors. But this confusion was a reduction of racism's true breadth, premised on the need to fix black people in one corner of the universe so that white people may be secure in all the rest of it. So to understand Obama, analysts needed to give him a superpower that explained how this self described black man escaped his assigned corner. That power was his mixed ancestry.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
[whiteness] has no real meaning divorced from the machinery of criminal power. The new people were something else before they were white—Catholic, Corsican, Welsh, Mennonite, Jewish—and if all our national hopes have any fulfillment, then they will have to be something else again. Perhaps they will truly become American and create a nobler basis for their myth. I cannot call it. As for now, it must be said that the process of washing the disparate tribes white, the elevation of the belief in being white, was not achieved through wine tastings and ice cream socials, but rather through the pillaging of life, liberty, labor and land; through the flaying of backs; the chaining of limbs; the strangling of dissidents; the destruction of families; the rape of mothers; the sale of children; and various other acts meant, first and foremost, to deny you and me the right to secure and govern our own bodies. The new people are not original in this. Perhaps there has been, at some point in history, some great power whose elevation was exempt from the violent exploitation of other human bodies. If there has been, I have yet to discover it. But this banality of violence can never excuse America, because America makes no claim to the banal. America believes itself exceptional, the greatest and noblest nation ever to exist, a lone champion standing between the white city of democracy and terrorists, despots, barbarians, and other enemies of civilization. One cannot, at once, claim to be superhuman and then plead mortal error. I propose to take our countrymen's claims of American exceptionalism seriously, which is to say I propose subjecting our country to an exceptional moral standard. This is difficult because there exists, all around us, an apparatus urging us to accept American innocence at face value and not to inquire too much. And it is so easy to look away, to live with the fruits of our history and to ignore the great evil done in all of our names. But you and I have never truly had that luxury.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Do you ever feel that same need? Your life is so very different from my own. The grandness of the world, the real world, the whole world, is a known thing for you. And you have no need of dispatches because you have seen so much of the American galaxy and its inhabitants—their homes, their hobbies—up close. I don’t know what it means to grow up with a black president, social networks, omnipresent media, and black women everywhere in their natural hair. What I know is that when they loosed the killer of Michael Brown, you said, “I’ve got to go.” And that cut me because, for all our differing worlds, at your age my feeling was exactly the same. And I recall that even then I had not yet begun to imagine the perils that tangle us. You still believe the injustice was Michael Brown. You have not yet grappled with your own myths and narratives and discovered the plunder everywhere around us. Before I could discover, before I could escape, I had to survive, and this could only mean a clash with the streets, by which I mean not just physical blocks, nor simply the people packed into them, but the array of lethal puzzles and strange perils that seem to rise up from the asphalt itself. The streets transform every ordinary day into a series of trick questions, and every incorrect answer risks a beat-down, a shooting, or a pregnancy. No one survives unscathed. And yet the heat that springs from the constant danger, from a lifestyle of near-death experience, is thrilling. This is what the rappers mean when they pronounce themselves addicted to “the streets” or in love with “the game.” I imagine they feel something akin to parachutists, rock climbers, BASE jumpers, and others who choose to live on the edge. Of course we chose nothing. And I have never believed the brothers who claim to “run,” much less “own,” the city. We did not design the streets. We do not fund them. We do not preserve them. But I was there, nevertheless, charged like all the others with the protection of my body. The crews, the young men who’d transmuted their fear into rage, were the greatest danger. The crews walked the blocks of their neighborhood, loud and rude, because it was only through their loud rudeness that they might feel any sense of security and power. They would break your jaw, stomp your face, and shoot you down to feel that power, to revel in the might of their own bodies.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The scope of Trump’s commitment to whiteness is matched only by the depth of popular intellectual disbelief in it. We are now being told that support for Trump’s “Muslim ban,” his scapegoating of immigrants, his defenses of police brutality are somehow the natural outgrowth of the cultural and economic gap between Lena Dunham’s America and Jeff Foxworthy’s. The collective verdict holds that the Democratic Party lost its way when it abandoned commonsense everyday economic issues like job creation for the softer fare of social justice. The indictment continues: To their neoliberal economics, Democrats, and liberals at large, have married a condescending elitist affect that sneers at blue-collar culture and mocks white men as history’s greatest monster and prime time television’s biggest doofus. In this rendition, Donald Trump is not the product of white supremacy so much as the product of a backlash against contempt for white working people. “We so obviously despise them, we so obviously condescend to them,” Charles Murray, a conservative social scientist who co-wrote The Bell Curve, recently told The New Yorker’s George Packer. “The only slur you can use at a dinner party and get away with is to call somebody a redneck—that won’t give you any problems in Manhattan.” “The utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun-country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes,” charged Anthony Bourdain, “is largely responsible for the upswell of rage and contempt and desire to pull down the temple that we’re seeing now.” That black people who’ve lived under centuries of such derision and condescension have not yet been driven into the arms of Trump does not trouble these theoreticians. After all, in this analysis Trump’s racism and the racism of his supporters are incidental to his rise. Indeed, the alleged glee with which liberals call out Trump’s bigotry is assigned even more power than the bigotry itself. Ostensibly assaulted by campus protests, battered by theories of intersectionality, throttled by bathroom rights, a blameless white working class did the only thing any reasonable polity might: elect an orcish reality television star who insists on taking his intelligence briefings in picture-book form.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
I heard the fear in the first music I ever knew, the music that pumped from boom boxes full of grand boast and bluster. The boys who stood out on Garrison and Liberty up on Park Heights loved this music because it told them, against all evidence and odds, that they were masters of their own lives, their own streets, and their own bodies. I saw it in the girls, in their loud laughter, in their gilded bamboo earrings that announced their names thrice over. And I saw it in their brutal language and hard gaze, how they would cut you with their eyes and destroy you with their words for the sin of playing too much. “Keep my name out your mouth,” they would say. I would watch them after school, how they squared off like boxers, vaselined up, earrings off, Reeboks on, and leaped at each other. I felt the fear in the visits to my Nana’s home in Philadelphia. You never knew her. I barely knew her, but what I remember is her hard manner, her rough voice. And I knew that my father’s father was dead and that my uncle Oscar was dead and that my uncle David was dead and that each of these instances was unnatural. And I saw it in my own father, who loves you, who counsels you, who slipped me money to care for you. My father was so very afraid. I felt it in the sting of his black leather belt, which he applied with more anxiety than anger, my father who beat me as if someone might steal me away, because that is exactly what was happening all around us. Everyone had lost a child, somehow, to the streets, to jail, to drugs, to guns. It was said that these lost girls were sweet as honey and would not hurt a fly. It was said that these lost boys had just received a GED and had begun to turn their lives around. And now they were gone, and their legacy was a great fear. Have they told you this story? When your grandmother was sixteen years old a young man knocked on her door. The young man was your Nana Jo’s boyfriend. No one else was home. Ma allowed this young man to sit and wait until your Nana Jo returned. But your great-grandmother got there first. She asked the young man to leave. Then she beat your grandmother terrifically, one last time, so that she might remember how easily she could lose her body. Ma never forgot. I remember her clutching my small hand tightly as we crossed the street. She would tell me that if I ever let go and were killed by an onrushing car, she would beat me back to life. When I was six, Ma and Dad took me to a local park. I slipped from their gaze and found a playground. Your grandparents spent anxious minutes looking for me. When they found me, Dad did what every parent I knew would have done—he reached for his belt. I remember watching him in a kind of daze, awed at the distance between punishment and offense. Later, I would hear it in Dad’s voice—“Either I can beat him, or the police.” Maybe that saved me. Maybe it didn’t. All I know is, the violence rose from the fear like smoke from a fire, and I cannot say whether that violence, even administered in fear and love, sounded the alarm or choked us at the exit. What I know is that fathers who slammed their teenage boys for sass would then release them to streets where their boys employed, and were subject to, the same justice. And I knew mothers who belted their girls, but the belt could not save these girls from drug dealers twice their age. We, the children, employed our darkest humor to cope. We stood in the alley where we shot basketballs through hollowed crates and cracked jokes on the boy whose mother wore him out with a beating in front of his entire fifth-grade class. We sat on the number five bus, headed downtown, laughing at some girl whose mother was known to reach for anything—cable wires, extension cords, pots, pans. We were laughing, but I know that we were afraid of those who loved us most. Our parents resorted to the lash the way flagellants in the plague years resorted to the scourge.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
But race is the child of racism, not the father. And the process of naming "the people" has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy. Difference in hue and hair is old. But the belief in the preeminence of hue and hair, the notion that these factors can correctly organize a society and that they signify deeper attributes, which are indelible-this is the new idea at the heart of these new people who have been brought up hopelessly, tragically, deceitfully, to believe that they are white.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The idea of racial inferiority was created to justify unequal treatment; belief in racial inferiority is not what triggered unequal treatment. Nor was fear of difference. As Ta-Nehisi Coates states, “But race is the child of racism, not the father.
Robin DiAngelo (White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism)
racism is a visceral experience...
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Daniel Gillion, a political scientist at the University of Pennsylvania who studies race and politics, examined the Public Papers of the Presidents, a compilation of nearly all public presidential utterances—proclamations, news-conference remarks, executive orders—and found that in his first two years as president, Obama talked less about race than any other Democratic president since 1961. Obama’s racial strategy has been, if anything, the opposite of radical: He declines to use his bully pulpit to address racism, using it instead to engage in the time-honored tradition of black self-hectoring, railing against the perceived failings of black culture.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
When she discussed her firing with her family, her mother, who’d spent her life facing down racism at its most lethal, simply wept. “What will my babies say?” Sherrod cried to her husband, referring to their four small granddaughters. “How can I explain to my children that I got fired by the first black president?
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
The idea of racial inferiority was created to justify unequal treatment; belief in racial inferiority is not what triggered unequal treatment. Nor was fear of difference. As Ta-Nehisi Coates states, “But race is the child of racism, not the father.” 6 He means that first we exploited people for their resources, not according to how they looked. Exploitation came first, and then the ideology of unequal races to justify this exploitation followed.
Robin DiAngelo (White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism)
Belcher’s formulation grants the power of anti-black racism, and proposes to defeat it by not acknowledging it. His is the perfect statement of the Obama era, a time marked by a revolution that must never announce itself, by a democracy that must never acknowledge the weight of race, even while being shaped by it. Barack Obama governs a nation enlightened enough to send an African American to the White House, but not enlightened enough to accept a black man as its president.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
And there can be no conflict between the naming of whiteness and the naming of the degradation brought about by an unrestrained capitalism, by the privileging of greed and the legal encouragement to hoarding and more elegant plunder. I have never seen a contradiction between calling for reparations and calling for a living wage, on calling for legitimate law enforcement and single-payer health care. They are related—but cannot stand in for one another. I see the fight against sexism, racism, poverty, and even war finding their union not in synonymity but in their ultimate goal—a world more humane.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
But you are human and you will make mistakes. You will misjudge. You will yell. You will drink too much. You will hang out with people you shouldn’t. Not all of us can always be Jackie Robinson - not even Jackie Robinson was always Jackie Robinson. But the price of error is higher for you than it is for your countrymen, and so that America might justify itself, the story of a black body’s destruction must always begin with his or her error, real or imagined - with Eric Garner’s anger, with Trayvon Martin’s mythical words (“You are gonna die tonight”), with Sean Bell’s mistake of running with the wrong crowd, with me standing too close to the small-eyed boy pulling out.
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 not inviolable. When their own vulnerability becomes real - when the police decide that tactics intended for the ghetto should enjoy wider visage, 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)
I see the fight against sexism, racism, poverty, and even war finding their union not in synonymity but in their ultimate goal — a world more humane.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
In the days after Donald Trump’s victory, there would be an insistence that something as “simple” as racism could not explain it. As if enslavement had nothing to do with global economics, or as if lynchings said nothing about the idea of women as property. As though the past 400 years could be reduced to the irrational resentment of full lips. No. Racism is never simple. And there was nothing simple about what was coming, or about Obama, the man who had unwittingly summoned this future into being.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. . . . You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body. —Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
Robin DiAngelo (White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism)
As Ta-Nehisi Coates states, “But race is the child of racism, not the father.”6 He means that first we exploited people for their resources, not according to how they looked. Exploitation came first, and then the ideology of unequal races to justify this exploitation followed. Similarly, historian Ibram Kendi, in his National Book Award–winning work Stamped from the Beginning, explains: “The beneficiaries of slavery, segregation, and mass incarceration have produced racist ideas of Black people being best suited for or deserving of the confines of slavery, segregation, or the jail cell. Consumers of these racist ideas have been led to believe there is something wrong with Black people, and not the policies that have enslaved, oppressed, and confined so many Black people.”7 Kendi goes on to argue that if we truly believe that all humans are equal, then disparity in condition can only be the result of systemic discrimination.
Robin DiAngelo (White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism)
Gdy pogodziłem się z tym, że historią rządzi chaos, a mnie czeka ostateczny kres, zyskałem swobodę
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between The World And Me)
This leads us to another equally important ideal, one that Americans implicitly accept but to which they make no conscious claim. Americans believe in the reality of “race” as a defined, indubitable feature of the natural world. Racism—the need to ascribe bone-deep features to people and then humiliate, reduce, and destroy them—inevitably follows from this inalterable condition
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
But race is the child of racism, not the father. And the process of naming "the people" has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
race is the child of racism, not the father.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
But race is the child of racism, not the father. And the process of naming “the people” has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Racism—the need to ascribe bone-deep features to people and then humiliate, reduce, and destroy them—inevitably follows from this inalterable condition. In
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The American real-estate industry believed segregation to be a moral principle. As late as 1950, the National Association of Real Estate Boards' code of ethics warned that "a Realtor should never be instrumental in introducing into a neighborhood ... any race or nationality, or any individuals whose presence will clearly be detrimental to property values." A 1943 brochure specified that such potential undesireables might include madams, bootleggers, gangsters - and "a colored man of means who was giving his children a college education and thought they were entitled to live among whites." The federal government concurred. It was the How Owners' Loan Corporation, not a private trade association, that pioneered the practice of redlining, selectively granting loans and insisting that any property it insured be covered by a restrictive covenant - a clause in the deed forbidding the sale of the property to anyone other than whites. Millions of dollars flowed from tax coffers into segregated white neighborhoods. "For perhaps the first time, the federal government embraced the discriminatory attitudes of the marketplace," the historian Kenneth R. Jackson wrote in his 1985 book, Crabgrass Frontier, a history of suburbanization. "Previously, prejudices were personalized and individualized; FHA exhorted segregation and enshrined it as public policy. Whole areas of cities were declared ineligible for loan guarantees." Redlining was not officially outlawed until 1968, by the Fair Housing Act. By then the damage was done - and reports of redlining by banks have continued.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Un conto ancora aperto)
Kids in North Lawndale need not be confused about their prospects: Cook County's Juvenile Temporary Detention Center sits directly adjacent to the neighborhood.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Un conto ancora aperto)
The earthquake cannot be subpoenaed. The typhoon will not bend under indictment. They sent the killer of Prince Jones back to his work, because he was not a killer at all. He was a force of nature, the helpless agent of our world's physical laws.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
...all the fears with which I had grown up, and which were now a part of me and controlled my vision of the world, rose up like a wall between the world and me...
James Baldwin (The Fire Next Time)
Before the president spoke, George Zimmerman was arguably the most reviled man in America. After the president spoke, Zimmerman became the patron saint of those who believe that an apt history of racism begins with Tawana Brawley and ends with the Duke lacrosse team.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
The focus on one sector of Trump voters—the white working class—is puzzling, given the breadth of his white coalition. Indeed, there is a kind of theater at work in which Trump is pawned off as a product of the white working class as opposed to a product of an entire whiteness that includes the very authors doing the pawning. The motive is clear: escapism. To accept that even now, some five decades after Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on a Memphis balcony, the bloody heirloom remains potent—even after a black president, and, in fact, strengthened by the fact of the black president—is to accept that racism remains, as it has since 1776, at the heart of the country’s political life.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
We were laughing but I know that we were afraid of those who loved us most. Our parents resorted to the lash the way flagellants in the plague years resorted to the scourge… The law did not protect us and now, in your time, the law has become an excuse for stopping and frisking you, which is to say for furthering the assault on your body. But a society that protects some people through a safety net of schools, government-backed home loans, and ancestral wealth but can only protect you with the club of criminal justice has either failed at enforcing its good intentions or has succeeded at something much darker. However you call it, the result was our infirmity before the criminal forces of the world.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Pointing to citizens who voted for both Obama and Trump does not disprove racism; it evinces it. To secure the White House, Obama needed to be a Harvard-trained lawyer with a decade of political experience and an incredible gift for speaking to cross sections of the country; Donald Trump needed only money and white bluster.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
And there can be no conflict between the naming of whiteness and the naming of the degradation brought about by an unrestrained capitalism, by the privileging of greed and the legal encouragement to hoarding and more elegant plunder. I have never seen a contradiction between calling for reparations and calling for a living wage, on calling for legitimate law enforcement and single-payer health care. They are relate–but cannot stand in for one another. I see the fight against sexism, racism, poverty, and even war finding their union not in synonymity but in their ultimate goal–a world humane.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
In those days I imagined racism as a tumor that could be isolated and removed from the body of America, not as a pervasive system both native and essential to that body.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
When it becomes clear that Good Negro Government might, in some way, empower actual Negroes over actual whites, then the fear sets in, the affirmative-action charges begin, and birtherism emerges. And this is because, at its core, those American myths have never been colorless. They can not be extricated from the theory that a class of people carry peonage in their blood. That peon class provided the foundation on which all those myths and conceptions were build. And as much as we can theoretically imagine a seamless black integration into the American myth, the white part of this country remembers the myth as it was conceived.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
I see the fight against sexism, racism, poverty, and even war finding their union not in synonymity but in their ultimate goal—a world more humane.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
I have never seen a contradiction between calling for reparations and calling for a living wage, on calling for legitimate law enforcement and single-payer health care. They are related—but cannot stand in for one another. I see the fight against sexism, racism, poverty, and even war finding their union not in synonymity but in their ultimate goal—a world more humane.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
But any investigation into the actual details revealed that the ladders themselves were not equal—that to be a member of the “black race” in America had specific, quantifiable consequences. Not only did poor blacks tend to be much less likely to advance up their ladder, but those who did stood a much greater likelihood of tumbling back. That was because the middle-class rung of the black ladder lacked the financial stability enjoyed by the white ladder. Whites in the middle class often brought with them generational wealth—the home of a deceased parent, a modest inheritance, a gift from a favorite uncle. Blacks in the middle class often brought with them generational debt—an incarcerated father, an evicted niece, a mother forced to take in her sister’s kids. And these conditions, themselves, could not be separated out from the specific injury of racism, one that was not addressed by simply moving up a rung.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
Son," my father said of Obama, "you know the country got to be messed up for them folks to give him the job.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
The implications of the true story are existential and corrosive to our larger national myth. To understand that the most costly war in this country's history was launched in direct opposition to everything the country claims to be, to understand that this war was the product of centuries of enslavement, which is to see an even longer, more total war, is to alter the accepted conception of America as a beacon of freedom. How does one face this truth or forge a national identity out of it?
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
The kind of trenchant racism to which black people have persistently been subjected can never be defeated by making its victims more respectable.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
And I knew that there were children born into these same caged neighborhoods on the Westside, these ghettos, each of which was planned as any subdivision. They are an elegant act of racism, killing fields authored by federal policies, where we are, all again, plundered of our dignity, of our families, of our wealth, and of our lives. [. . .] "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. [. . .] 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.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
One Saturday morning last May, I joined the presidential motorcade as it slipped out of the southern gate of the White House. A mostly white crowd had assembled. As the motorcade drove by, people cheered, held up their smartphones to record the procession, and waved American flags. To be within feet of the president seemed like the thrill of their lives. I was astounded. An old euphoria, which I could not immediately place, gathered up in me. And then I remembered, it was what I felt through much of 2008, as I watched Barack Obama’s star shoot across the political sky. I had never seen so many white people cheer on a black man who was neither an athlete nor an entertainer. And it seemed that they loved him for this, and I thought in those days, which now feel so long ago, that they might then love me, too, and love my wife, and love my child, and love us all in the manner that the God they so fervently cited had commanded.
Ta-Nehisi Coates
These were the fetishes that gathered the tribe of white supremacy, that rallied them to the age-old banner, and if there was one mistake, one reason why I did not see the coming tragedy, why I did not account for its possibilities, it was because I had not yet truly considered that banner's fearsome power.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
The idea of racial inferiority was created to justify unequal treatment; belief in racial inferiority is not what triggered unequal treatment. Nor was fear of difference. As Ta-Nehisi Coates states, “But race is the child of racism, not the father.”6 He means that first we exploited people for their resources, not according to how they looked. Exploitation came first, and then the ideology of unequal races to justify this exploitation followed.
Robin DiAngelo (White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism)
In Ta-Nehisi Coates’s essay “The Case for Reparations,” he makes a similar point: To ignore the fact that one of the oldest republics in the world was erected on a foundation of white supremacy,
Robin DiAngelo (White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism)
Ideas like cosmic justice, collective hope, and national redemption had no meaning for me. The truth was in the everything that came after atheism, after the amorality of the universe is taken not as a problem but as a given. It was then that I was freed from considering my own morality away from the cosmic and the abstract. Life was short, and death undefeated. So I loved hard, since I would not love for long.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
But all our phrasing—race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy—serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. . . . You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body. —Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
Robin DiAngelo (White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism)
Racism was not a singular one-dimensional vector but a pandemic, afflicting black communities at every level, regardless of what rung they occupied.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
hey're doing, and figure out how to do more. The biggest thing that white people can do is really get comfortable having conversations about race and racism in this country. And the way you get comfortable is that first you get awkward by putting yourself in the middle of it. Read books—actually read Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me instead of just putting it on your shelf. Read Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow. Go to websites like The Root, Colorlines, Very Smart Brothas, Blavity, and also The Establishment and Indian Country Today, and read Lindy West, wherever she's writing at currently. And support the artists, TV shows, and films that support the America that most Americans want. Don't take any of these choices for granted. And finally, white people reading this book right now (and the people of color who believe in them and want to help them), you need to confront the white people in your life who you think don't exist but actually do exist.
W. Kamau Bell (The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6' 4", African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama's Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian)
Racism—the need to ascribe bone-deep features to people and then humiliate, reduce, and destroy them—inevitably follows from this inalterable condition.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The idea of racial inferiority was created to justify unequal treatment; belief in racial inferiority is not what triggered unequal treatment. Nor was fear of difference. As Ta-Nehisi Coates states, 'But race is the child of racism, not the father.' He means that first we exploited people for their resources, not according to how they looked. Exploitation came first, and then the ideology of unequal races to justify this exploitation followed. Similarly, historian Ibram Kendi, in his National Book Award-winning work Stamped from the Beginning, explains: 'The beneficiaries of slavery, segregation, and mass incarceration have produced racist ideas of Black people being best suited for or deserving of the confines of slavery, segregation, or the jail cell. Consumers of these racist ideas have been lead to believe there is something wrong with Black people, and not the policies that have enslaved, oppressed, and confined so many Black people.' Kendi goes on to argue that if we truly believe that all humans are equal, then disparity in condition can only be the result of systemic discrimination.
Robin DiAngelo (White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism)
Despite the popular perception that race is “natural” or “timeless,” the biological notion of race is a modern European invention. When race was invented, however, it was invented as “the child of racism, not the father,” as Ta-Nehisi Coates points out, and “the process of naming ‘the people’ has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy.”442 Whiteness has never existed independent of its location at the top of the racial hierarchy. Thus, as Joel Olson explained in The Abolition of White Democracy, “ ‘White’ or ‘Caucasian’ is not a neutral physical description of certain persons but a political project of securing and protecting privileges…
Mark Bray (Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook)
As Ta-Nehisi Coates states, “But race is the child of racism, not the father.
Robin DiAngelo (White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism)
There is nothing uniquely evil in these destroyers or even in this moment. The destroyers are merely men enforcing the whims of our country, correctly interpreting its heritage and legacy. It is hard to face this. But all our phrasing—race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy—serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this. You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
race is the child of racism,
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
And I knew that there were children born into these same caged neighborhoods on the Westside, these ghettos, each of which was as planned as any subdivision. They are an elegant act of racism, killing fields authored by federal policies, where we are, all again, plundered of our dignity, of our families, of our wealth, and of our lives.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Ta-Nehisi Coates states, “But race is the child
Robin DiAngelo (White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism)
When the Dutch ambassador tried to humiliate her by refusing her a seat, Nzinga had shown her power by ordering one of her advisers to all fours to make a human chair of her body. That was the kind of power I sought...
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Some of us make it out. But the game is played with loaded dice. I wish I had known more, and I wished I had known it sooner.
Ta-Nehisi Coates
But race is the child of racism, not the father. And the process of naming ‘the people’ has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
J'ai commencé à comprendre que le but de mon éducation était une forme d'inconfort, un processus qui n'était pas destiné à me récompenser avec mon propre Rêve personnel mais qui, au contraire, devait briser tous les rêves, tous les mythes réconfortants de l'Afrique, de l'Amérique, de toutes les parties du monde, pour me laisser face à l'humanité dans ce qu'elle a de plus terrible.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Regarder cette réalité en face est douloureux. Mais notre lexique tout entier - relations interraciales, discriminations, justice raciale, profilage racial, privilège blanc et même suprématie blanche - ne sert qu'à oblitérer l'expérience viscérale du racisme, le fait qu'il détruit des cerveaux, empêche de respirer, déchire des muscles, éviscère des organes, fend des os, brise des dents.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Always lurking among Malcolm’s condemnations of white racism was a subtler, and more inspiring, notion—“You’re better than you think you are,” he seemed to say to us. “Now act like it.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
In a recent New Yorker article, a former Russian military officer pointed out that Russian interference in the election could only succeed where “necessary conditions” and an “existing background” were present. In America that “existing background” was a persistent racism and the “necessary condition” was the symbolic threat of a black president. The two related factors hobbled America’s ability to safeguard its electoral system.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
Mais une société qui en protège certains par un filet invisible d'écoles, d'emprunts immobiliers subventionnés, de richesses accumulées, et ne consent à t'offrir que la protection d'une justice criminelle, cette société là a échoué dans la mise en pratique de ses bonnes intentions - à moins qu'elle n'ait réussi à imposer quelque chose de bien plus sombre. Quel que soit le nom qu'on donne à ce système, il n'a eu qu'un seul résultat: notre infirmité face aux forces criminelles à l'oeuvre dans ce monde. Que l'agent de ces forces soit blanc ou noir n'a aucune importance- ce qui en a en revanche c'est notre condition; c'est le système qui fait de ton corps un objet destructible.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
The utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun-country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes,” charged the celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, “is largely responsible for the upswell of rage and contempt and desire to pull down the temple that we’re seeing now.” That black people, who have lived for centuries under such derision and condescension, have not yet been driven into the arms of Trump does not trouble these theoreticians. After all, in this analysis, Trump’s racism and the racism of his supporters are incidental to his rise. Indeed, the alleged glee with which liberals call out Trump’s bigotry is assigned even more power than the bigotry itself. Ostensibly assaulted by campus protests, battered by arguments about intersectionality, and oppressed by new bathroom rights, a blameless white working class did the only thing any reasonable polity might: elect an orcish reality-television star who insists on taking his intelligence briefings in picture-book form.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy)
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.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Racism—the need to ascribe bone-deep features to people and then humiliate, reduce, and destroy them—
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)
Americans believe in the reality of “race” as a defined, indubitable feature of the natural world. Racism—the need to ascribe bone-deep features to people and then humiliate, reduce, and destroy them—inevitably follows from this inalterable condition. In this way, racism is rendered as the innocent daughter of Mother Nature, and one is left to deplore the Middle Passage or the Trail of Tears the way one deplores an earthquake, a tornado, or any other phenomenon that can be cast as beyond the handiwork of men. But race is the child of racism, not the father. And the process of naming “the people” has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy. Difference in hue and hair is old. But the belief in the preeminence of hue and hair, the notion that these factors can correctly organize a society and that they signify deeper attributes, which are indelible—this is the new idea at the heart of these new people who have been brought up hopelessly, tragically, deceitfully, to believe that they are white.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me)