Category Archives: Race & America Spec Mod

Is Violence ever the answer?

In light of the many deaths of black lives at the hands of police officers and the rise of racially-charged protests throughout the United States, Ta’Nehisi Coates was invited to speak at Bucknell on February 11th about Barack Obama, Ferguson, and the Evidence of Things Unsaid. Not only was he a great speaker, but also he was not afraid to address the controversies surrounding these issues. Since then, there have been even more brutal deaths, violent and non-violent protests, and even Bucknell’s campus has seen expulsions due to racist comments said on its campus radio.

Just in the last month, the brutal death of Freddie Gray sparked violent protests through Baltimore and carried in to other cities throughout the United States. The protests were met with police tear gas and rubber bullets to suppress the violence and the protestors causing it. The violence was condemned by many a people, however as Mr. Coates points out is “what clearly cannot be said is that violence – like nonviolence – sometimes works.” Beyonce posted a video on her Instagram comparing the Freddie Gray protests to those of the civil rights era in 1968, and the similarities are clearly evident.

Although I’m not an advocating for violence, can it be justified if it creates results? Since Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson there have been numerous deaths of black lives at the hands of Police. As Ta-Nehisi Coates puts it in his articles, “the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 is inseparable from the threat of riots. The housing bill of 1968—the most proactive civil-rights legislation on the books—is a direct response to the riots that swept American cities after King was killed. Violence, lingering on the outside, often backed nonviolence during the civil-rights movement.” The alternative for the peaceful people trying to make a change was Malcolm X. No one wanted to face Malcolm X, so they would comply and make changes. At some point, the situation today compared to that of 1968 isn’t that different, in fact it looks terrifyingly the similar. Even more importantly, Mr. Coates also points out “what cannot be said is that the events of Ferguson do not begin with Michael Brown lying dead in the street but with policies set forth by the Government at every level.” It is well known that policy change in a government such as the United States is usually a long process that takes a long time. Will these violent protests force the Government to make policy changes that suppress institutional racism?


The Limits of your life

During his visit to Bucknell, Ta-Nehisi Coates answered a question from a student in the audience. The student asked Coates what people could do to make a change in the world? He was specifically speaking about racism in the United States. In response to the question, Coates spoke about how people like Martin Luther King Jr. existed within a history. In history there has to be a motive or something that we cannot ignore. On an individual level, Coates said that a person should find something that he loves that makes an impact on the world or at least something that matters. Coates said that people should be prepared to accept the limits of their lives. He meant that most people would not be able to change the world. The most important thing was for a person to do what he had to do in order to be at peace with him.

Continue reading The Limits of your life

Black Theatre in the (Post-) Obama Era

Lisa Thompson talk, Performances of Cultural Trauma: Black Theatre in the (Post-) Obama Era, expresses the power behind art like theatre, art, music, dance, and style. She talks about how politics is basically a form of theatre and with Obama in office it has altered the perception of black culture. Obama can be seen as taking on two different personas, one is black cool, which consist of the easily accessed forms of performance like dance and style, while he is also portrayed as an uncool nerd. Continue reading Black Theatre in the (Post-) Obama Era

The Obama Legacy: As Told by Charles Blow

According to Charles Blow’s speech at Bucknell University, there are four main components the the Obama administration will be remembered for: foreign policy, Obamacare, Diversity advancements, and the publics reactions to these actions. While Blow is a staunch Obama supporter, his speech showed the downsides as well of the triumphs of Obama’s eight years in office.

Blow sees foreign policy as a blight on the administration. While citing sources of remembrances Blow juxtaposes the ending of Guantanamo with the heavy use of drone killings. By doing this he is able to point out just how overshadowed any positive policy changes would be in comparison to the blight of computerized killings.

Continue reading The Obama Legacy: As Told by Charles Blow

“Because something will happen…it is mathematically certain”

As I listened to renowned journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates discuss violence within African American communities, I couldn’t help but be draw by his words.”Something will happen…it is mathematically certain,” he stated as he addresses the Bucknell community. The deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner were terrible but expected. This is not new violence in African American communities, but “a lot of recent actions over the past year have caused people to pay attention.” Continue reading “Because something will happen…it is mathematically certain”


Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “A Case for Reparations” taught me a lot about American history, and it made me consider issues in a new light. The author’s talk had the same effect. Something I learned of myself by the end, though, was that I find analogies very helpful and persuasive. There were two Coates used that really stuck with me and made me think, but I’ll just discuss the first. Continue reading Homeownership