The Anger Behind the Story

Ta-Nehisi Coates explains the feelings behind his article "Fear of a Black President."

"It is, I think, a properly angry essay," writes Atlantic editor-in-chief James Bennet at the beginning of the September issue, referring to Ta-Nehisi Coates's article on President Obama. Coates's article — called "Fear of a Black President" — looks back at Obama's 2008 campaign, and his pledge to reckon with race. That reckoning, Coates writes, has not happened:

In his first two years as president, Obama talked less about race than any other Democratic president since 1961. Obama’s racial strategy has been, if anything, the opposite of radical: he declines to use his bully pulpit to address racism, using it instead to engage in the time-honored tradition of black self-hectoring, railing against the perceived failings of black culture.

In this conversation with Atlantic magazine editor Scott Stossel, Coates admits to a certain anger simmering behind these words, and explores his complex feelings about the president's position on race.


Jennie Rothenberg Gritz is The Atlantic's digital features editor. More

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, an Atlantic senior editor, began her association with the magazine in 2002, shortly after graduating from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She joined the staff full time in January 2006. Before coming to The Atlantic, Jennie was senior editor at Moment, a national magazine founded by Elie Wiesel.

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