Ta-Nehisi Coates


The Great Black Hope

“My head,” Booker told me recently, compressing his hands to mimic a vice, “returned to its present size.” Beyond sharing light skin, Barack Obama and Cory Booker look nothing alike. Obama, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Illinois, is rail-thin, with short, Brillo-like hair; his precise features and scrawny neck make him look like a… Read more »

Critical Race Theory

The critique was a restatement of an old black-power notion, popularized by Malcolm X. Roughly, it asserts that docile house slaves were foolishly loyal to their masters, while cantankerous field slaves were the real rebels. The analysis is historically specious. Some of slavery’s most violent dissidents–Nat Turner, Toussaint L’Ouverture, Denmark Vesey, Gabriel Prosser–weren’t exactly intractable… Read more »

House Negro

By now, Watts’s story has been well trafficked through Washington’s hoary corridors. Watts hails from Eufala, Okla. His father was a lifelong Democrat, with conservative leanings (pro-life, anti-welfare). He was stern, religious, and packed a pistol in his glove compartment. Watts was, of course, poor, but because his family embraced traditional values (hard work, community,… Read more »

Dear Mr. President: From a Black Dude

The signs are everywhere. In the 2000 election, you received a measly 8 percent of the black vote—a dubious distinction only surpassed in 1964 by the hated Barry Goldwater, who, of course, lost the election. A poll taken shortly after the election noted that some 8 out of 10 African Americans believed that you were… Read more »