About that Ida Wells point

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I probably should explain some. In the book, Wells comes off as very much a woman of her time. Thus while a feminist, she buys into some Victorian ideals, and that old South sense of honor, and protecting the, uhm, virtue of women. A big conflict for Wells is that white men exhibit none of that respect, and black men--mostly afraid of being lynched--aren't doing much (from her perspective) to make that respect. Wells repeatedly shames the dudes, urging them to get guns and, basically, be men. In her romantic dealings, which are really well detailed, Wells is demanding on this point. She's not interested in a dude who's shuffling, or who would do less for her than she would do for herself. She was, basically, a bad-ass.

The "beef in the club" point was just a modern analogy and a joke. The Dick Armey\Joan Walsh deal, which you can see below, is of a different order. To my mind, Armey's comment came out  getting his ass handed to him by Walsh. He couldn't out-think her, so he decided to put her down. I'm not trying to put-down Ida Wells. I'm not in a competition with her. I'm certainly not trying to take a shot at her. I don't think she was wrong.  To the contrary, she's deeply inspiring, and in that somewhat frightening.

What can I say, I'm only a man. If you paint a woman for me fully and completely, then I'm going to see her--fully and completely.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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