Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor 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.
Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers.Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life's worst hazards and misfortune.
"I'm going to tell you something," says PJ. "Anybody who tells you that they feel bad causing an injury is probably lying. How can you feel bad? You're going up against a guy who is just as big and strong as you are. Your coach tells you to go kick his fucking ass. Your teammates tell you to go kick his fucking ass. Your father and your brother tell you to go kick his fucking ass. The media tells you to go kick his fucking ass. Before the game, your wife tells you to go kick his fucking ass. So you go and you kick his fucking ass. And if he gets hurt, how can you go back and say, 'I didn't mean for you to get hurt like that.' You're taught to hurt people. How can you say you didn't mean to?"Ed Reed says he didn't mean to. "This year, I took out an offensive lineman against Philly. It was bad technique on my part, and I took out the center's knee. Our coach talks to [Philadelphia coach] Andy Reid all the time, so I told Coach to send my respects for the center and let him know I didn't mean to hurt him, man. It was just the second game of the year, so he lost his whole season. That one preyed on me, man. I didn't know him personally, but I wanted to let him know that I had the utmost respect for him."
Gay marriage is now legal in nine states and in Washington, D.C. But because same-sex marriages are not recognized under federal law, the spouses of gay service members are barred from receiving medical and dental insurance and surviving spouse benefits and are not allowed to receive treatment in military medical facilities. Spouses are also barred from receiving military identification cards, which provide access to many community activities and services on base, including movie theaters, day care centers, gyms and commissaries.Gay service members who are married are not permitted to receive discounted housing that is routinely provided to heterosexual married couples...Sgt. Karen Alexander, a chemical and biological specialist at Fort Bragg, said that she and her wife, Allison Hanson, were receiving about $1,300 a month less than they would be if they were a heterosexual married couple. Ms. Hanson said she had to drop out of college last year to find a job to help pay their bills.Bobby McDaniel, the husband of a lieutenant colonel stationed in Central America, had to cover his own airfare when his spouse was stationed there. The military also declined to support his request for a diplomatic visa, a privilege typically granted to heterosexual spouses, so he has to leave the country where they live every three months to apply for another visitor's visa. It is a financial hardship.But he said the psychic toll was greater. "It just kind of eats away at you," Mr. McDaniel said. "It makes you feel like you're not a complete person."
It's worth comparing the first season of Girls with the first seasons of other HBO comedies like Entourage and Sex and the City. I would go so far as to say Girls was better than both of those first seasons, better than anything I ever saw on Entourage in any season, and perhaps better than anything I saw on SATC at any point too. Girls has no real need to sugar-coat Hannah's self-esteem issues or make us think that she actually, deep down, loves Adam. Hannah is a predator--as we all are predators--and she isn't asking us to admire her. I always felt SATC (and certainly Entourage, which was a much worse show) was trying to convince me of their awesomeness or the awesomeness of New York or L.A. Girls just wanted to tell me a story. I love the modesty of the task.
I didn't really understand how often Lena Dunham was nude on screen, or how often she did sex-scenes. If you take that in with the sex scene between her parents, what you have is one of the most democratic--and everyhuman--depictions of sex to ever exist in pop culture. The more I thought about this, the more important it became to me.
We should not deceive ourselves: We enjoy sex scenes because we enjoy seeing people whom some critical mass would like to fuck, fucking each other. And this is not an egalitarian phenomenon--Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry are much more common than the opposite. (Talking gender here, not race, which is another convo.) Occasionally a sex scene advances narrative, but mostly it's there for us--and mainly us dudes.
What Girls says is "Fuck the gaze." Lena Dunham ain't really performing for you. She's saying people like me--which is most of you--like to fuck. And in a real narrative of real life, the people who do most of the fucking don't actually look like Victoria Secret models. Your expectations for what fucking should look like are irrelevant. Here is how it looks like to the narrator. I kind of love that. In this (perhaps limited) sense, I can understand the "For Us, By Us" acclaim. The show's disregard for male notions of sex is pretty profound. And it achieves this while still giving us a fairly interesting cast of male characters.
The show ain't perfect. I found the occasional elements of black culture more jarring and unfortunate ("Hey, we're white. Look how lame we are. And look how lame we are when we act black.") than any lack thereof. But in general I came away genuinely impressed with the artistry.
Let's talk Betsy Andreu, the wife of one your former teammates, Frankie. Both Andreus testified under oath that they were in a hospital room in 1996 when you admitted to a doctor to using EPO, HGH and steroids. You responded by calling them "vindictive, bitter, vengeful and jealous." And that's the stuff we can say on TV.Would you now label them as "honest?"And what would you say directly to Betsy, who dealt with a voicemail from one of your henchmen that included, she's testified, this:"I hope somebody breaks a baseball bat over your head. I also hope that one day you have adversity in your life and you have some type of tragedy that will ... definitely make an impact on you.."What do you say to Emma O'Reilly, who was a young Dublin native when she was first hired by the U.S. Postal team to give massages to the riders after races?In the early 2000s, she told stories of rampant doping and how she was used to transport the drugs across international borders. In the USADA report, she testified that you tried to "make my life hell."Her story was true, Lance, wasn't it? And you knew it was true. Yet despite knowing it was true, you, a famous multimillionaire superstar, used high-priced lawyers to sue this simple woman for more money than she was worth in England, where slander laws favor the famous. She had no chance to fight it.She testified that you tried to ruin her by spreading word that she was a prostitute with a heavy drinking problem."The traumatizing part," she once told the New York Times, "was dealing with telling the truth."
We screwed up. It shouldn't have taken a wave of constructive criticism -- but it has -- to alert us that we've made a mistake, possibly several mistakes. We now realize that as we explored new forms of digital advertising, we failed to update the policies that must govern the decisions we make along the way. It's safe to say that we are thinking a lot more about these policies after running this ad than we did beforehand. In the meantime, we have decided to withdraw the ad until we figure all of this out. We remain committed to and enthusiastic about innovation in digital advertising, but acknowledge--sheepishly--that we got ahead of ourselves. We are sorry, and we're working very hard to put things right.
Oftentimes to just go away is one of the most aggressive things that another person can do, and if the means of expressing discontent are limited, as in this case, it is one of the few ways in which pressure can put.
Last week Alyssa made a point I've been thinking a lot about, in relation to some of the art that really has affected me over the past few months:
If there's one thing that marks our current era of popular culture, it's an obsession with cool of the kind exemplified by Quentin Tarantino's movies, or with transgressive badassery, of the sort that's characterized so many anti-hero dramas. And the way most people achieve that cool or badassness? The deployment of violence.
The Swiss army has long been a militia trained and structured to rapidly respond against foreign aggression. Swiss males grow up expecting to undergo basic military training, usually at age 20 in the Rekrutenschule (German for "recruit school"), the initial boot camp, after which Swiss men remain part of the "militia" in reserve capacity until age 30 (age 34 for officers).Each such individual is required to keep his army-issued personal weapon (the 5.56x45mm Sig 550 rifle for enlisted personnel and/or the 9mm SIG-Sauer P220 semi-automatic pistol for officers, military police, medical and postal personnel) at home. Up until October 2007, a specified personal retention quantity of government-issued personal ammunition (50 rounds 5.56 mm / 48 rounds 9mm) was issued as well, which was sealed and inspected regularly to ensure that no unauthorized use had taken place.The ammunition was intended for use while traveling to the army barracks in case of invasion. In October 2007, the Swiss Federal Council decided that the distribution of ammunition to soldiers shall stop and that all previously issued ammo shall be returned. By March 2011, more than 99% of the ammo has been received. Only special rapid deployment units and the military police still have ammunition stored at home today.When their period of service has ended, militiamen have the choice of keeping their personal weapon and other selected items of their equipment. In this case of retention, the rifle is sent to the weapons factory where the fully automatic function is removed; the rifle is then returned to the discharged owner. The rifle is then a semi-automatic or self-loading rifle.
"I think Martin Luther King, Jr. would agree with me if he were alive today that if African Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country's founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history," Ward said.
I don't intend to stop watching. I could go into a lot about my thinking, but it essentially comes down to the my belief that these players are making the same Achilles bargin that young men have been making for eons, and I'm comfortable accepting that.The game will never be "safe," but that doesn't mean that changes can't be made to make the game safer. Some changes I would like to see (some of which may have already been started):1) Off field changes-- Move to fully guaranteed contracts and expand rosters. Players would be more willing to sit if they know they won't be cut off/replaced after being injured. And a larger roster would make it easier for a team to keep an injured players on the payroll.-- Full health coverage for players who played more than 3 years or suffered a career-ending injury.-- Robust mental therapy program for players transitioning into retirement (possibly make it a requirement for retired players seeking health care coverage).-- Doctors work for the league, not for the teams. And each doctor has a clear checklist on the sideline that a player must pass if they're suspected of being concussed.-- Brain function tests at the start and end of every season, which are shared with the players at the start of training camp every year. Make sure their choice is as well-informed as possible.-- If a player suffers a concussion, they're not allowed to play in the following week. If they suffer a second concussion, they have to skip two games. Any more, they're forced to sit out the rest of the season.-- Add another bye week to the season, and either end Thursday night games, or schedule them in such a way that teams only play them when coming off of a bye week.2) On field changes-- Make every offensive player an eligible receiver. Over the long term, I think this would reduce the size of linemen to TE sized players, and it'd eliminate a lot of the "in the trenches" hit a player takes over his career. It would also make the game more strategically complex, as defenses would have to guess who's going out to receive and who's staying to block. It's a big break from tradition, but ironically, it'd make the sport much more similar to the way that it's played by ordinary people in backyards around the country.-- Ban the 3-pt and 4-pt stance. Instead of firing into each other in a way where it's impossible to avoid head-to-head contact, make offensive lineman line up in the way they often do already for pass plays, and make defensive linemen line up more like linebackers. There'd still be head to head contact, but it wouldn't be as natural and inevitable.-- Experiment with different helmet materials. The history of the sport proves that helmets are needed (players regularly died on the field back before helmets were used), but they should experiment with materials that make leading with the head less likely. Maybe something closer to the leather helmets of old, or like the headgear boxers use when sparring.(To fantasize for a moment about helmet technology: I don't think they'll ever be able to create a helmet to stop concussions, despite what NFL PR tries to tell us. But I'd like to see something that registers the amount of force taken by a player over the course of a game. And once it reaches a certain threshold, a player has to leave the game. Like it slowly turns red the more hits it takes, and once it's glowing red, the player has to leave the game.)What do you guys think of these ideas? What ideas do you suggest?
Sign up to receive our free newsletters
Pardon my French
As a candidate, Barack Obama said we needed to reckon with race and with America’s…