Billy Dee Williams Says, 'Be a Credit to Your Race'

More
Du Bois.jpg

Jamilah notes in the Open Thread that the census might allow you to check "Negro." Let me say with all the force that I can muster that, as black person/African-American, as someone whose father fought to secure our rights in this country, as someone who's suffered the cruel bite of racism, I am absolutely appalled...that the census hasn't done this sooner.

I don't know about Negroes like Jamilah, and frankly I don't much care. (Did they buy my book? No?? Eff em then.) This decision by the Census Bureau will allow me to fulfill my lifelong ambition to become a "Negro Writer." I consider the category of "black writer" limiting. Not because it prevents me from measuring up with other white writers (Did they buy my book? No?? Eff em then.) but because it conjures images of turtlenecks, conferences, and spoken word.

No, I want that old time effect. I'm talking about tweed and sepia, sonnets which trade in words like "inglorious" and phrases like "O kinsmen." A bow-tie and handkerchief is a plus. I'm talking narratives of high yallers passing. I'm talking about books with hoary titles like Oak and Ivy, Darkwater and Ethiopia Unbound (The Intuitionist?? The Farming of Bones?? The Big Machine??? Drown??? WTF???)

I am going to be glorious. I demand that my every utterance be force-fed to ghetto kids in public schools every February. I demand that white people not read a word I've written, but adopt a solemn, reverent look at the mere mention of my name.

I demand my inclusion in various Norton Anthologies with the following bio--Esteemed Negro writer. First to grace The Atlantic's masthead since other Negro, Frederick Douglass. Overlooked in his time. Consumed no purple stuff.

Jump to comments
Presented by

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. More

Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Breathtaking Tour Above the Moab Desert

Filmmaker Ian Cresswell rigs an HD camera atop a remote-controlled "octocopter" for some spectacular aerial views.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In