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.
The average affluent black and Hispanic household -- defined in the study as earning more than $75,000 a year -- lives in a poorer neighborhood than the average lower-income non-Hispanic white household that makes less than $40,000 a year."Separate translates to unequal even for the most successful black and Hispanic minorities," says sociologist John Logan, director of US2010 Project at Brown University, which studies trends in American society."Blacks are segregated and even affluent blacks are pretty segregated," says Logan, who analyzed 2005-09 data for the nation's 384 metropolitan areas. "African Americans who really succeeded live in neighborhoods where people around them have not succeeded to the same extent."The disparities are strongest in large metro areas in the Northeast and Midwest where segregation has always been high. It's lowest in more recent booming parts of the Sun Belt."White middle-class families have the option to live in a community that matches their own credentials," Logan says. "If you're African American and want to live with people like you in social class, you have to live in a community where you are in the minority."
Revealed in Marvel Comics' Ultimate Fallout Issue 4, out Wednesday, the new Spider-Man in the Ultimate universe is a half-black, half-Hispanic teen named Miles Morales. He takes over the gig held by Peter Parker, who was killed in Ultimate Spider-Man Issue 160 in June.In his first appearance, he simply breaks up a fight. But readers will learn the true origin of Morales and how he became the new Spider-Man when Ultimate Spider-Man relaunches in September with a new No. 1 issue.
We put a lot of weight on physical appearance in our society, but not like we used to. Physical appearance, at one point, was thought to directly, and irrefutably correspond with deeper characteristics. In the primary documents, you hear people complementing others for having a "intelligent face." This is meant in the most literal sense.Do you know that little as grown negroes are admirable for their personal beauty (in my opinion, at least), the black babies of a year or two old are very pretty; they have for the most part beautiful eyes and eyelashes, the pearly perfect teeth, which they retain after their other juvenile graces have left them; their skins are all (I mean of blacks generally) infinitely finer and softer than the skins of white people. Perhaps you are not aware that among the white race the finest grained skins generally belong to persons of dark complexion.This, as a characteristic of the black race, I think might be accepted as some compensation for the coarse woolly hair. The nose and mouth, which are so peculiarly displeasing in their conformation in the face of a negro man or woman, being the features least developed in a baby's countenance, do not at first present the ugliness which they assume as they become more marked; and when the very unusual operation of washing has been performed, the blood shines through the fine texture of the skin, giving life and richness to the dingy colour, and displaying a species of beauty which I think scarcely any body who observed it would fail to acknowledge...At first the dark colour confounded all features to my eye, and I could hardly tell one face from another. Becoming, however, accustomed to the complexion, I now perceive all the variety among these black countenances that there is among our own race, and as much difference in features and in expression as among the same number of whites. There is another peculiarity which I have remarked among the women here--very considerable beauty in the make of the hands; their feet are very generally ill made, which must be a natural, and not an acquired defect, as they seldom injure their feet by wearing shoes. The figures of some of the women are handsome, and their carriage, from the absence of any confining or tightening clothing, and the habit they have of balancing great weights on their heads, erect and good.
To me, this just sounds like the next hostage fight. Full expiration of the Bush tax cuts was unacceptable to many Republicans and Democrats alike. So the GOP played its hand aggressively, and Democrats backed down. Failure to raise the debt ceiling was unacceptable to many Republicans and Democrats alike. So the GOP played its hand aggressive, and Democrats backed down. If pulling the sequestration trigger is unacceptable to many Republicans and Democrats alike, then why won't Republicans simply play the same game of bluff and hardball that's worked for them in the past? What new trick is up Obama's sleeve to change the basic hostage dynamic? I don't think it's inconceivable that the administration could answer that question in a plausible way, but I don't think anything they put out yesterday clearly offered such an answer.
Obama has one golden ticket out of the revenue dilemma. As I've written multiple times, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts gives him enormous leverage over the GOP. Republicans signaled last year they'd rather kill off the entire Bush tax cuts than sacrifice the portion that only benefits the rich. Holding firm on the Bush tax cuts would let Obama maneuver Republicans into the position of killing off all the Bush tax cuts. That would provide all the revenue he needs - some $4 trillion over a decade, as opposed to the $800 billion he'd raise merely by ending tax cuts for the rich.What's more, going to the mat over the Bush tax cuts would provide Obama with a strong political message for 2012. He can't run on the economy. He needs a contrast election. Republicans will try to pass some version of the Paul Ryan budget, cutting taxes for the most affluent and laying waste to Medicare and Medicaid. Obama can run as the candidate insisting on shared sacrifice - and having already agreed to $3 trillion in spending cuts would give him credible to draw that line.The problem, though, is that we can't be sure Obama really intends to draw that line. There's a limit to how much faith one can place in a man who has so badly misjudged his political opponents time and time again. The debt ceiling ransom may be a shrewd strategic retreat, or it may be the largest in a series of historic capitulations. We won't know until the fight over the Bush tax cuts has been settled.
President Obama said Sunday night that the deal "begins to lift the cloud of debt and the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over the economy." He added that political leaders now "should be devoting all of our time" to the nation's broader economic challenges.But economists say the deal could complicate that task. There is broad agreement that the United States needs to pay down its debts, but most economists say the government should have waited a year or more for the economy to strengthen."We sure missed a big window of opportunity to reduce our debt in those strong years when asset prices were booming," said Carmen Reinhart, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and co-author of "This Time Is Different," a history of debt crises. "Instead we're stuck trying to do it now, when the economy is so weak."The economy grew at an annual rate of only 0.8 percent during the first half of the year. Millions of homes remain empty. Twenty-five million Americans could not find full-time jobs last month. And even without the debt ceiling deal, federal spending is in rapid decline. Little remains of the federal stimulus money. Payroll tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the year.
What's important to understand about the debt-ceiling vote -- where Democrats and Republicans will either strike a deal to increase the Treasury's borrowing cap or the country will collapse into default -- is that it's not like Democrats have simply forgotten about it. It's not that they haven't realized that they could tie it to the tax cuts, which Republicans want and which will add $900 billion to the debt. It's that they simply don't want to. "Let the Republicans have some buy-in on the debt. They're going to have a majority in the House," said Harry Reid. "I don't think it should be when we have a heavily Democratic Senate, heavily Democratic House and a Democratic president."The theory goes something like this: Republicans will demand sharp spending cuts in return for lifting the debt ceiling. Let them. "Boehner et al have had the luxury of proposing all sorts of ideas that bear no relation to reality," says Jim Manley, Reid's spokesman. "Next year, they'll have to lay it all out. No more magic asterisks, no more 'we'll get back to you.' "But this is a dangerous game of chicken that Democrats are playing, and not one they've shown much stomach for thus far.
If Democrats weren't willing to shoot the hostage on the tax cuts, what makes anyone think they'll allow it on the debt ceiling?Obama's answer was not comforting. "Here's my expectation," he said, moments after comparing the Republican negotiating strategy to terrorists who shoot hostages, "and I'll take John Boehner at his word. Nobody, Democrat or Republican, is willing to see the full faith and credit of the United States government collapse, that that would not be a good thing to happen.... Once John Boehner is sworn in as speaker, then he's going to have responsibilities to govern. You can't just stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower."
The war solved no problem. Its effects, both immediate and indirect, were either negative or disastrous. Morally subversive, economically destructive, socially degrading, confused in its causes, devious in its course, futile in its result, it is the outstanding example in European history of meaningless conflict.The overwhelming majority in Europe, the overwhelming majority in Germany, wanted no war; powerless and voiceless, there was no need even to persuade them that they did. The decision was made without thought of them. Yet of those who, one by one, let themselves be drawn into the conflict, few were irresponsible and nearly all were genuinely anxious for an ultimate and better peace. Almost all--one excepts the King of Sweden--were actuated rather by fear than by lust of conquest or passion of faith. They wanted peace and they fought for thirty years to be sure of it,.They did not learn then, and have not since, that war breeds only war.
By 1860 there were approximately 4,000,000 slaves in the United States, the second largest slave society--slave population--in the world. The only one larger was Russian serfdom. Brazil was close. But in 1860 American slaves, as a financial asset, were worth approximately three and a half billion dollars--that's just as property. Three and a half billion dollars was the net worth, roughly, of slaves in 1860. In today's dollars that would be approximately seventy-five billion dollars.In 1860 slaves as an asset were worth more than all of America's manufacturing, all of the railroads, all of the productive capacity of the United States put together. Slaves were the single largest, by far, financial asset of property in the entire American economy. The only thing worth more than the slaves in the American economy of the 1850s was the land itself, and no one can really put a dollar value on all of the land of North America.
The just comparison is between the slaves and the useful animals to whose level your laws reduce them; and I will acknowledge that the slaves of a kind owner may be as well cared for, and as happy, as the dogs and horses of a merciful master; but the latter condition--i.e. that of happiness--must again depend upon the complete perfection of their moral and mental degradation.Mr. ----, in his letter, maintains that they are an inferior race, and, compared with the whites, 'animals, incapable of mental culture and moral improvement:' to this I can only reply, that if they are incapable of profiting by instruction, I do not see the necessity for laws inflicting heavy penalties on those who offer it to them. If they really are brutish, witless, dull, and devoid of capacity for progress, where lies the danger which is constantly insisted upon of offering them that of which they are incapable.We have no laws forbidding us to teach our dogs and horses as much as they can comprehend; nobody is fined or imprisoned for reasoning upon knowledge, and liberty, to the beasts of the field, for they are incapable of such truths. But these themes are forbidden to slaves, not because they cannot, but because they can and would seize on them with avidity--receive them gladly, comprehend them quickly; and the masters' power over them would be annihilated at once and for ever.But I have more frequently heard, not that they were incapable of receiving instruction, but something much nearer the truth--that knowledge only makes them miserable: the moment they are in any degree enlightened, they become unhappy. In the letter I return to you Mr. ---- says that the very slightest amount of education, merely teaching them to read, 'impairs their value as slaves, for it instantly destroys their contentedness, and since you do not contemplate changing their condition, it is surely doing them an ill service to destroy their acquiescence in it;' but this is a very different ground of argument from the other.The discontent they evince upon the mere dawn of an advance in intelligence proves not only that they can acquire but combine ideas, a process to which it is very difficult to assign a limit; and there indeed the whole question lies, and there and nowhere else the shoe really pinches.
When another Georgia inmate, Roy Blankenship, was executed in June, the prisoner jerked his head, grimaced, gasped and lurched, according to a medical expert's affidavit. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Mr. DeYoung, executed in the same manner, "showed no violent signs in death." Voters should not have to rely on media accounts to understand what takes place when a man is put to death.Cameras record legislative sessions and presidential debates, and courtrooms are allowing greater television access. When he was an Illinois state senator, President Obama successfully pressed for the videotaping of homicide interrogations and confessions. The most serious penalty of all surely demands equal if not greater scrutiny.
Britain was awash in a new surge of outrage over the phone hacking scandal on Thursday as news emerged that Scotland Yard had added to the list of probable victims a woman whose 8-year-old daughter was murdered by a repeat sex offender in 2000.The tabloid at the center of the scandal, The News of the World, aggressively championed the campaign of the grieving mother, Sara Payne, for a law warning parents if child sex offenders lived nearby.Mrs. Payne had written warmly of the paper in its final issue, calling it "an old friend." A statement released on behalf of Mrs. Payne by the Phoenix Foundation, a children's charity she founded, described her as devastated and disappointed. "Today is a very sad dark day for us," the charity added in a posting on Facebook. "Our faith in good people has taken a real battering."Other postings noted that she was struggling in light of the July 1 anniversary of her daughter's abduction and from the effects of a stroke she suffered 19 months ago, which paralyzed her left side.The Guardian was the first to report Scotland Yard's alert to Mrs. Payne, but the e-mail newsletter Popbitch suggested earlier this month that Mrs. Payne's voice mail had been hacked and that the phone in question might have been provided to her by Rebekah Brooks, then the editor of The News of the World.In a statement, Ms. Brooks confirmed that The News of the World had provided Mrs. Payne with a cellphone "for the last 11 years" as part of the campaign for the law, but said that "it was not a personal gift." She said that she found the allegations that Mrs. Payne's voice mail had been hacked "abhorrent and particularly upsetting, as Sara Payne is a dear friend."In recent testimony on the scandal in Parliament, Ms. Brooks cited the measure named after Mrs. Payne's daughter, Sarah's Law, as evidence of the good she had done in her years at the tabloid's helm.
Belair [Md.] Aug 25th 1864Mr president It is my Desire to be free. to go to see my people on the eastern shore. my mistress wont let me you will please let me know if we are free. and what i can do. I write to you for advice. please send me word this week. or as soon as possible and oblidge.Annie Davis
The Emancipation Proclamation differed dramatically from Lincoln's previous policies regarding slavery and emancipation, some of which dated back to his days in the Illinois legislature and Congress. It abandoned the idea of seeking the cooperation of slaveholders in emancipation, and of distinguishing between loyal and disloyal owners. It was immediate, not gradual; contained no mention of monetary compensation for slaveowners, did not depend on action by the states, and made no reference to colonization (in part, perhaps, because gradualism, compensation, and colonization had no bearing on the "military necessity" that justified the document.) Lincoln had long resisted the enlistment of black soldiers; now he welcomed them into the Union Army. The Proclamation addressed slaves directly, not as the property of the country's enemies but as persons with wills of their own whose action might help win the Civil War.
...the greatest available, and yet unavailed of force for restoring the union. The bare sight of fifty thousand armed, and drilled black soldiers on the banks of the Mississippi, would end the rebellion at once.
Despite its palpable limitations, the proclamation set of scenes of jubilation among free blacks in the North and contrabands and slaves in the South. At Beaufort on the Sea Islands, over 5,000 African-Americans celebrated their freedom by singing what a white observer called "the Marseillaise of the slave"; "In that New Jerusalem, I am not afraid to die; We must fight for liberty in that New Jerusalem." In the North, blacks gathered in their churches. "I have never witnessed," the abolitionists Benjamin R. Plumly wrote to Lincoln from Philadelphia, "such intense, intelligent and devout Thanksgiving..." When one person suggested that Lincoln might pursue 'some form of colonization; a woman shouted, "God won't let him..."
Ms. Diallo and her lead lawyer, Kenneth P. Thompson, spent much of Wednesday at the district attorney's office in Manhattan, where they listened to a recording of conversations Ms. Diallo had with a fellow African immigrant in an Arizona jail after she said she was attacked. Law enforcement officials told Mr. Thompson and The New York Times last month that Ms. Diallo could be heard saying on the tape "words to the effect of: 'Don't worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I'm doing.' "But after listening to the recording on Wednesday, Mr. Thompson told reporters at a news conference that Ms. Diallo's statements had been mischaracterized. He said that at no point did she raise the issue of Mr. Strauss-Kahn's wealth or status in the way that prosecutors had described it. Rather, he said, the man she was speaking with, who initiated the calls to Ms. Diallo, remarked during one conversation that Ms. Diallo could stand to gain money from the case, but she quickly dismissed the idea and said it was a matter for her lawyer.
But you have also acknowledged that this is more than just political -- you've said that after campaigning for him at 65 events, you were miffed that he didn't return your phone calls or say thank you.I think he had to keep me at a distance. There's no doubt that he didn't want to be identified with a black leftist. But we're talking about one phone call, man. That's all. One private phone call.He was running a successful candidacy for president. He might have been busy.So many of the pundits assume that it's just egoism: "Who does Cornel West think he is? The president is busy." But there's such a thing as decency in human relations.O.K., but did you also have to say that Obama "feels most comfortable with upper-middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart"?It's in no way an attempt to devalue white or Jewish brothers. It's an objective fact. In his administration, he's got a significant number of very smart white brothers and very smart Jewish brothers. You think that's unimportant?When Larry Summers was president of Harvard, he told you your rap album was an "embarrassment" to the university, and you quit soon after. He was one of Obama's first appointments. Did that strike a particular feeling in your heart?I couldn't help it. I'm a human being, indeed. Given the disrespect he showed me? Oh, my God. Again, it's political much more than it's personal. Summers was in captivity to Wall Street interests. But it's personal too.
Rendering the hallowed Proclamation as a seminal act of hippy-punching is understandably attractive to the Very Serious People of Washington. But, in Mr. Obama's case, it also evinces a narrow politicocentric view of democracy that holds that the first duty of a loyal opposition is to stay on message and fall in line.In fact, many of Lincoln's most vociferous critics welcomed the Proclamation. Wendell Phillips, who once derided Lincoln as "the slave-hound of Illinois," claimed the Proclamation as "the people's triumph." Frederick Douglass, who helped wage a primary campaign against the president in 1864 and once charged that Lincoln was "a genuine representative of American prejudice and negro hatred," hailed the Proclamation as "the greatest event of our nation's history."Douglass was not delusional. With a wave of his pen, Lincoln freed tens of thousands of slaves and opened the Army to blacks, an act that Lincoln himself once derided. "Never before had so large a number of slaves been declared free," writes historian Eric Foner in his Pulitzer Prize-winning history, "The Fiery Trial." "The proclamation altered the nature of the Civil War, the relationship of the federal government to slavery, and the course of American history. It liquidated the largest concentration of property in the United States. ... Henceforth, freedom would follow the American flag." In sum, it's true that the Proclamation was a compromise. But hailing it merely as such is akin to hailing "Moby-Dick" for being a book -- technically correct, if painfully thickwitted.
Sign up to receive our free newsletters
Pardon my French
Why the reelection of the first black president matters even more than his…
As a candidate, Barack Obama said we needed to reckon with race and with America’s…