Ta-Nehisi Coates

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.

  • Echoes Of The Crack Age

    Man, what happened to Vinia Mojica? I thought she was so hot in this video. No bikini, no grind, no crazy extensions. Just a tee-shirt, jeans, doorknockers and a smile. What else did a 15-year old kid really need? Almost 20 years later, and I haven't changed.

    Anyway, I'm ashamed to say that I didn't realize how great this song was until I heard it at a party a few years back. I loved it as a kid, but hearing it at live spot all these years later (and not in the middle of the cliche-ass old school set) had me wide open. I put my ring up to my man's waves, and saw the ocean...

  • The Case Against Gay Marriage

    Made by a dude who knows all about marriage, since he's been married thrice:

    But I think that the fundamental objection to gay marriage among most who oppose it has very little to do with one's feelings about the nature of homosexuality or what the Bible has to say about sodomy. The obstacle to wanting gay marriage is instead how we use and depend on marriage itself--and how little marriage, understood completely, affects or is relevant to gay people in love. Gay marriage is not so much wrong as unnecessary. But if it comes about, it will not be gay marriage that causes the harm I fear, as what will succeed its inevitable failure.

    Blogger, what? Isaac Chotiner, rightfully, rips him a new one:

    There is something nice--refreshing even--about a single article that incorporates everything you despise in a certain worldview. What's more, rather than looking for polite or euphemistic words, it is lovely to be able to say that the article is, simply, dreadful.
  • A Warcraft Memorial Day

    There were a couple of redeeming features to my Memorial Day--I knocked out my morning run in Central Park. I knocked out a solid 50 pages of A Nation Under Our Feet. I cooked dinner.

    But on the whole, it was straight nerd debauchery around these parts as I spent most of Memorial Day raiding in Naxx. It was insane. If you ever want to lose weight, try playing a marathon WoW session. I ate at like 11 and then didn't eat again until like 8:30 that night--Diet Coke doesn't count.

    It was a good raid. I've started tanking recently, and I did OK for the most part. We were running ten-man and (no disrespect to my guildies) it was mostly our B-team, in terms of gear. We could not get Kel'Thuzad down. That ice-block was just too devastating.

    I think all told I put a solid eight hours, easily breaking my "longest WoW session" record. It really is something to spend that sort of time, via TeamSpeak, with a bunch of people you've never met in person. And yet the numbers keep growing. I can't tell you how many people approach me, when I'm traveling for the book, and either note that they play, or complain about their husband playing.


  • Clarence Thomas Thinks He Has It Hard

    But really he has no idea. Dig this:

    Especially harsh reprisals could be brought against blacks aligned with conservatives and Democrats, for they were generally regarded not merely as opponents but as "traitors."...In the rural hinterlands of Portsmouth, Virginia, black Republicans attacked "colored conservatives" at a prayer meeting and beat two of them badly. In southside Virginia's Campbell County, a black man who betrayed the Union League was tied up by his heels and suspended from a tree for several hours until he agreed to take an oath of loyalty. Two "conservative negroes" in Lincoln County, North Carolina, had their houses stoned and doors broken down...One black man living outside Augusta, Georgia, went so far as to insist that he would cut the throat of any son "willing to be a Democrat."

    Even knowing the history, it's surreal to read about a black dude saying he would "cut the throat" of any of his kids, should he turn about to be a Democrat. This is taken from Steven Hahn's wonderful and epic history A Nation Under Our Feet. I want to thank all the commenters and e-mailers who urged me to read this book. It really is incredible and it gives such a textured portrait of black people living in the 19th century.

    As I've talked about before, it's really unfortunate that our narrative of black life goes something like this--Slavery, Civil War, Dark Ages, Civil Rights, Dark Ages Again, Barack Obama. Maybe those last two can still change. But my point is that this notion of summits and valleys does a disservice to all the black people, many of whom were killed, who worked to make all those summits possible. There's a portion in the book where Hahn just reads down this list of names of black folks who were murdered for defying the the conservative white supremacists in the South. The handles are so ordinary and there's an incredible power in seeing them one after the other. So many people who are just names. So many martyrs forgotten.

    I think Hahn's book will be hard for those who don't have an intense interest in the subject. It's really well-written, but also dense (as it should be).  Still this is a major, major work in the effort to break this notion of black passivity and victimhood. I'm 160 pages out. I'll write again when I'm done.

  • Segregated Proms

    Not that this was the first we've heard of it, but this piece on segregated proms was pretty interesting. I wish the editors had opted for a full on feature, instead of just a photo essay. Still, one theme came across that I found, at once, depressing and uplifting. The notion of segregated proms, really, is about the inability of white parents in the town to let go:

    Black members of the student council say they have asked school administrators about holding a single school-sponsored prom, but that, along with efforts to collaborate with white prom planners, has failed. According to Timothy Wiggs, the outgoing student council president and one of 21 black students graduating this year, "We just never get anywhere with it." Principal Luke Smith says the school has no plans to sponsor a prom, noting that when it did so in 1995, attendance was poor.

    Students of both races say that interracial friendships are common at Montgomery County High School. Black and white students also date one another, though often out of sight of judgmental parents. "Most of the students do want to have a prom together," says Terra Fountain, a white 18-year-old who graduated from Montgomery County High School last year and is now living with her black boyfriend. "But it's the white parents who say no. ... They're like, if you're going with the black people, I'm not going to pay for it."

    "It's awkward," acknowledges JonPaul Edge, a senior who is white. "I have as many black friends as I do white friends. We do everything else together. We hang out. We play sports together. We go to class together. I don't think anybody at our school is racist." Trying to explain the continued existence of segregated proms, Edge falls back on the same reasoning offered by a number of white students and their parents. "It's how it's always been," he says. "It's just a tradition."

    It's obviously cool to hear that young people are leading integrated social lives. You could see people like this ending the tradition once they become parents. Or not. I kept thinking that if you're the sort of person who is pissed that your town had a segregated prom, you're also a likely candidate to leave and raise a family elsewhere.

  • Sotamayor To The Supreme Court

    If Obama gets his way. I'll have more thoughts on this later. But one thing that's clear to me, is that this notion that Obama won't fight, really doesn't hold up. He sometimes doesn't fight for things that we want him to fight for. But he isn't afraid. I don't know if it's because of that Rosen piece, or what, but my initial impression is that this is very good fight to engage--politically and otherwise.

    Back to that first point, Obama is tactical as always--I just don't think Jeff Sessions, with his history, really wants it with a Puerto-Rican woman who worked her way up from the projects and went on to be summa cum laude at Princeton, and went on to Yale Law. Not to mention you have the first Latina Supreme Court judge, appointed by the first black president. Just on the crass politics, it ain't a good look.

    Maybe, I'll feel differently after I think on it. But that's my initial thought.

    UPDATE: The presser is scheded for 10:15. You should be able to see it, at this link below.

  • OK, I'm No Longer Surprised

    It's just who they are:

    She's the 69-year-old speaker of the House of Representatives, second in the line of succession and the most powerful woman in U.S. history.

    But when you see Nancy Pelosi, the Republican National Committee wants you to think "Pussy Galore."

    At least that's the takeaway from a video released by the committee this week - a video that puts Pelosi side-by-side with the aforementioned villainess from the 1964 James Bond film "Goldfinger...."

    "It's an attempt to demean your opponent, rather than debate them. If they're serious that this is an issue of national security, then you'd think that one would want to debate it on the merits," she says. "It's almost as if they can't help themselves." 
  • Conservative Radio Host Has Himself Waterboarded (Video)

    Via Yglesias, and Jon Chait, we have conservative shock-jock Erich "Mancow" Muller has himself waterboarded to prove that it isn't torture:

    "I want to find out if it's torture," Mancow told his listeners Friday morning, adding that he hoped his on-air test would help prove that waterboarding did not, in fact, constitute torture..."

    "The average person can take this for 14 seconds," Marine Sergeant Clay South answered, adding, "He's going to wiggle, he's going to scream, he's going to wish he never did this."
    With a Chicago Fire Department paramedic on hand,  Mancow was placed on a 7-foot long table, his legs were elevated, and his feet were tied up.  
    Turns out the stunt wasn't so funny. Witnesses said Muller thrashed on the table, and even instantly threw the toy cow he was holding as his emergency tool to signify when he wanted the experiment to stop.  He only lasted 6 or 7 seconds.

    Below is a video of Muller, post-waterboarding. For those who can't watch this at work, suffice to say he had a change of heart.

    View more news videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com/video.

  • Gotham Under Pressure

    Megan hears the footsteps:

    The first model for an urban renaissance was, after all, New York.  But while New York's renaissance was certainly a product of a lot of factors, all of the institutional improvements were funded by the post-1982 financial services boom.  New York City is projecting its 2010 revenue will be down 30% from FY2008.  That's three years after the recession started.

    Those tax revenues supported New York's extraordinarily odd income structure.  New York has extraordinarily generous poverty benefits, made possible because so many of its residents make so much money that they don't really miss the extra taxes.  A city with a more normal income distribution couldn't support that level of spending.  So if the financial industry really is permanently smaller and less lucrative, what happens to the 650,000 New Yorkers in public housing, the one in three New Yorkers on Medicaid, the 50,000 or so on TANF, and so forth?

    Presumably they get fewer services, and get angrier, and commit more crimes, which don't get solved as rapidly by the smaller police force.  And the families with children start moving back out.  And presumably this problem is replicated in cities like San Francisco and Seattle which depend, indirectly, on revenue generated by the financial markets.

    Heh, I wish. Then maybe I could afford to actually live in a city. OK, that's a pretty stupid way of looking at cities. The larger problem, at least here in NY, is the seeming insanity of being middle class and living here. I'm slowly coming to grips with the fact that we probably can't continue to live here--the boy's getting big, Kenyatta has dreams, and I'm writing. (Always a bad idea, if you wanna be rich)

    I love Harlem, but I don't know whether it's worth crying over it's rise. And, despite Megan's prognosis, I'd be shocked if prices (over the long term) didn't keep going up. The world changes. We like yesterday better because it's the devil we know, and the one we've faced.

  • Especially The Blacks And The Jews...

    Continuing on the Ofra Haza\Rakim tip, I'd like to report that Adam Serwer sent me a business-like e-mail this morning announcing "We're Taking Over." The news? Well as Adam notes, "being a black Jews, just got a little less lonely"

    Growing up in a black, Pentecostal family in Cleveland, Alysa Stanton never imagined the day when she would be preparing to be ordained as a rabbi.

    But that day will come June 6 for the single mother who will be ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, becoming the first African-American female rabbi in the world.

    Awesome. Rebuilding the coalition one step at a time. Or not. A little more from Adam:

    Ironically, I think that the fact that Stanton is a woman will be more trouble for her trying to find a congregation than the fact that she's black. Sadly, female rabbis are still somewhat controversial--there's that apocryphal saying from a rabbi that "a woman will be a rabbi when there's an orange on the seder plate." That prompted a number of Jewish families to actually start putting an orange on their seder plates. Something for President Obama to think about if he does another White House seder next year.


What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we still save the night sky?


The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City


Desegregated, Yet Unequal

A short documentary about the legacy of Boston busing


Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.


Social Media: The Video Game

What if the validation of your peers could "level up" your life?


The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.



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