Category: Coates, Ta-Nehisi

have the courage to read this book


[CN: Anti-black violence, n-word mention]

It’s really exciting that a piece of literature so completely dis-interested in appeasing whiteness is getting the scale of attention this book is receiving. Yes, you should read it. Yes, it’s every bit as beautifully written as they are saying it is. It really is an open letter to Coates’s son; it has the language of a letter in its simplicity, its anaphoras. The paragraphs are breaths, extensive and measured, containing an incredible rage at a cosmic injustice, and they end on powerful and sometimes enigmatic imagery.

You can almost see the struggle of the publishing industry in trying to market this book. The blurbs i hear on it, regurgitated from press kits, is that it’s part autobiography and part historical examination of the Civil War and of black power struggles in the time after the Movement. And it has those elements. The language includes history, grapples with it, shows much of it to be an illusion conjured by the white establishment, the Dreamers. But it’s not for your edification. The jacket says Coates’s language builds towards “a transcendent vision for a way forward,” when nothing could be more diametrically opposed to the author’s framework. Coates is a thorough materialist, the body is the spirit, and this makes the violence wrought on black bodies in Amerikkka, the power lorded over these bodies, all the more tragic and criminal.