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Why do white people like what I write?

Pankaj Mishra: Ta-Nehisi Coates

22 February 2018
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy 
by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Hamish Hamilton, 367 pp., £16.99, October 2017, 978 0 241 32523 0
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... During​ the big antiwar protests in early 2003, Ta-NehisiCoates was a deliveryman for a deli in Park Slope, Brooklyn. He, too, was ‘sceptical’, he wrote a decade later in a blog post for the Atlantic, ‘but if the US was going to take out a mad tyrant, who ...

Loaded Dice

Thomas Chatterton Williams: Ta-Nehisi Coates

3 December 2015
Between the World and Me 
by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Text, 152 pp., £10.99, September 2015, 978 1 925240 70 2
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... which is steadily gaining purchase in the US, Brown was a casualty of a centuries-old system of oppression that decided his fate before his parents’ parents had even met. This is the view held by Ta-NehisiCoates, a 40-year-old journalist at the Atlantic, who makes the case most seductively in his recent memoir, Between the World and Me. Formally modelled on the first part of James Baldwin’s The Fire ...

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Adam Shatz: Mass Incarceration

3 May 2017
Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America 
by James Forman.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 306 pp., £21.98, April 2017, 978 0 374 18997 6
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... succeeded him as president. This most eloquent champion of ‘post-racialism’ may have been the most powerful man in the world, yet he remained a prisoner of his race, of his ‘black body,’ as Ta-NehisiCoates put it in Between the World and Me.1 In the face of repeated police shootings of young black men or atrocities such as the church massacre in Charleston, South Carolina, Obama did little more ...


David Denby: Deaths on Camera

7 September 2016
... over the difference in arrest rates between whites and blacks for the same crime. Looking at the videos has also become a way of grieving. ‘I have waited for 15 years for this moment,’ Ta Nehisi-Coates said on 24 November 2015, when receiving the National Book Award for Between the World and Me, his essay on race and violence. Coates’s close friend Prince Jones was killed in Virginia in 2000 ...

Driving through a Postcard

Christian Lorentzen: In New Hampshire

3 March 2016
... a gun-toting socialist who backed interventions in the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, reliably supported Israel, acquiesced to Pentagon appropriations and didn’t object to drone deployments. Ta-NehisiCoates, who says he’ll be voting for Sanders, has asked what’s so radical about a leftist who doesn’t support reparations to African-Americans. Protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement ...
18 April 2019
Whiteshift: Populism, Immigration and the Future of White Majorities 
by Eric Kaufman.
Allen Lane, 617 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 241 31710 5
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National Populism: The Revolt against Liberal Democracy 
by Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin.
Pelican, 384 pp., £9.99, October 2018, 978 0 241 31200 1
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... trends. As evidence that anti-racism has become a ‘religion’, Kaufmann makes heavy use of an article on a US website that claims nobody on the left dare criticise the black American writer Ta-NehisiCoates. That would come as news to Cornel West, Thomas Chatterton Williams and Pankaj Mishra, all of whom have publicly criticised Coates’s ideas, from a variety of positions.* He treats Marcel ...

Fried Fish

Thomas Chatterton Williams: Colson Whitehead

17 November 2016
The Underground Railroad 
by Colson Whitehead.
Fleet, 320 pp., £14.99, October 2016, 978 0 7088 9839 0
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... the Russian countryside.) In times of strife, there is something seductive, even romantic, about the kind of transhistorical thinking the new social consciousness invokes, articulated most notably in Ta-NehisiCoates’s bestseller, Between the World and Me.* ‘I can’t secure the safety of my son,’ Coates said in his acceptance speech for the National Book Award. ‘I can’t go home and tell him that ...

Where Life Is Seized

Adam Shatz: Frantz Fanon’s Revolution

19 January 2017
Écrits sur l’aliénation et la liberté 
by Frantz Fanon, edited by Robert Young and Jean Khalfa.
La Découverte, 688 pp., £22, October 2015, 978 2 7071 8638 6
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... When they dislike me, they point out that it is not because of my colour. Either way, I am locked into the infernal circle.’ But how was he to liberate himself from this infernal circle and – as Ta-NehisiCoates would later put it in Between the World and Me – ‘live free in this black body’? Fanon was briefly drawn to the racial romanticism of the Senegalese poet Léopold Senghor, another figure ...

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