A Night with Ta-Nehisi Coates

It was really interesting to hear Ta-Nehisi Coates speak, especially after we had read his article on reparations for class. I am always curious to see how a writer’s voice is different or similar between his speaking and writing.

I thought that Coates was well spoken and I appreciated his take on current events. He wasn’t afraid to call it as he sees it like when he said “everybody erupts over the fact that maybe some bad things happened.” It is true that history repeats itself and being honest about the fact that these stories have been happening even when not making the headlines is something that people often don’t remember. He also brought up the issue of black on black violence, which is honestly an angle of the racial discussion that I have thought about before. His response brought to light that the expectations of justice are different in those cases. When a white person wrongs a black person, there is less expectation that the white person will ever be punished. In contrast, the scales are more balanced when both aggressor and victim are of the same race.

The portion of the lecture that really stuck out to me was at the end when Coates responded to a question about finding a solution. Coates told the audience to find their way to contribute and said that you need to do something that lets you sleep at night. He said that his contribution was writing because it was something he was good at and could use to the benefit of others. Coates also made it clear that we need to be realistic about what we can individually accomplish. We cannot change the world on our own, it just isn’t possible. However, that doesn’t mean we should let things go on the way they are. We need to be comfortable making a difference on the small scale in the best ways we can. I thought that Coates’s perspective was truthful and obtainable.


3 thoughts on “A Night with Ta-Nehisi Coates”

    1. Time got away from me and I thought that I had posted it… clearly I was wrong. But I do agree that it is frustrating to be on board for a discussion in hopes of finding a solution and ultimately not having much of that discussion. I am also curious as to how these issues could be fixed moving forward. I wonder what kind of forum would facilitate that conversation?

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Social movements… politicians have no incentive to approach it.

    South Africa had a national truth and reconciliation process at the end of apartheid. It may be a model. But I think too many majority white AMericans will say “that is old history, we need to move on.” Coates’ point is not it is history beyond the reach of our now to face and address one way or another.


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