Ta-Nehisi Coates quotes and sayings
I enjoy the challenge of trying to say things beautifully. The message is secondary in that sense. Obviously, I have something that I want to say that's very, very important to me - but the process of actually crafting it is essential.
You can't tolerate anybody attempting to threaten or intimidate your body. You must respond with force.
I had no expectations of white people at all.
The lives of African-Americans in this country are characterized by violence for most of our history. Much of that violence, at least to some extent, you know, done by the very state that's supposed to protect them.
It is said that Obama speaks 'professorially,' a fact that understates the quickness and agility of his mind.
I don't know how you bridge that contradiction, but I felt that Barack Obama was sincere. It didn't feel like a line to me. You know, it felt like him reverting back to what was in his bones and that's, you know, optimism and a deep belief in, you know, American institutions and the American people.
Rates of black poverty have decreased. Black teen-pregnancy rates are at record lows - and the gap between black and white teen-pregnancy rates has shrunk significantly. But such progress rests on a shaky foundation, and fault lines are everywhere.
Every writer dreams of having the ability to hold forth for 8,000 words and pull all these different forms together: history, reportage, journalism. That was all I really wanted, and 'The Atlantic' was my first high-profile opportunity.
There isn't a dude outside my dad who had greater influence on my life.
Lot of folks like to mock dumb history, and pretend it's just a few idiots. Isn't. It's the country.
Racism is, among other things, the unearned skepticism of one group of humans joined to the unearned sympathy for another.
Racism is a physical experience.
You don't actually have control of the position people want you to be in. If they say, 'You king of the blacks,' you're king of the blacks - whether you like it or not.
Part of that is ordinary African-Americans, you come out of your house and you see the conditions in your neighborhood and you see, folks in your neighborhood doing certain things that, are irresponsible. You know, the thing I always think about, you get up early in the morning to go to work and there's some dude outside drinking and you come home and the same dude is outside drinking hanging on the corner. And then this engenders a level of anger I think and a level of shame.
I think the sad fact is, there's a long history in this country at looking at African-American as subhuman. And I think that's reflected in the fact that, when we have problems that really are problems of employment, that are really problems of mental health, that are really problems of drugs, our answer is the police.
Barack Obama grew up in Hawaii, far, far removed from the most, you know, sort of violent, you know, tendencies of Jim Crow and segregation. He wasn't directly exposed to that. He was untraumatized.
Empathy - not squishy self-serving conflict avoidance - is the hand-maiden, not the enemy, of reason and intellectual inquiry.
You can't make a direct comparison between middle-class African Americans and middle-class white Americans, affluent African Americans and affluent white Americans. The amount of wealth tends to be less.
Donald Trump begins his political career in birtherism. That idea is connected to a very, very old notion that African-Americans are not citizens.
To Trump, whiteness is neither notional nor symbolic but the very core of his power. In this, Trump is not singular. But whereas his forebears carried whiteness like an ancestral talisman, Trump cracked the glowing amulet open, releasing its eldritch energies.
I haven't checked, but I highly suspect that chickens evolved from an egg-laying ancestor, which would mean that there were, in fact, eggs before there were chickens. Genius.
I was 24 when Samori was born. His mom was 23.
I did not know then that this is what life is - just when you master the geometry of one world, it slips away, and suddenly again, you're swarmed by strange shapes and impossible angles.
I think it's really important to be conscious of yourself and the world around you. For me, that meant reading a lot and reporting.
You don't make a case for reparations thinking, 'Oh yeah, people are gonna love this.' I didn't see that coming.
Abraham Lincoln is singular. Abraham Lincoln, before he was killed, stood up and, you know, for the first time from any sitting president, stood for the right for suffrage for African-American men who had served in the Civil War. And that's a limited suffrage, but it was quite radical at the time.
It's very hard to be black in this country and hate America. It's really hard to live like that. I would actually argue it's impossible to fully see yourself.
My mom used to tell me, I can't use this phrase on the radio - but basically don't be one of those dudes hanging on the corner.
I didn't start off as a journalist; I started off as a poet. My ambition was to practise poetry. Then I found journalism, but that other voice never fled from me.
Forgiveness is a big part of - especially post-civil rights movement - is a big part of African-American Christianity, and I wasn't raised within the Christian church; I wasn't raised within any church.
When I grew up in West Baltimore, anything associated - and I'm talking about my childhood - with white people 99 percent of the time was something malevolent, like it was an explanatory force for something bad.
Any time you have, you know, upwards of 90 percent of a demographic voting against somebody, that's a statement.
Is the Jewish race thriftier than the Arab race?
The greatest reward of this constant interrogation, confrontation with the brutality of my country, is that it has freed me from hosts and myths.
If George Washington crossing the Delaware matters, so must his ruthless pursuit of the runagate Oney Judge.
I am not asking you as a white person to see yourself as an enslaver. I'm asking you as an American to see all of the freedoms that you enjoy and see how they are rooted in things that the country you belong to condoned or actively participated in the past.
When you have a policy of making sure that African Americans cannot build wealth, of plundering African American communities of wealth, giving opportunities to other people, it's only right that you might want to, you know, pay that back.
It's hard for me to view Baltimore outside the context of what Baltimore has always been in my mind: a violent place.
I do understand how hate eats at the soul and how to purge yourself of hate.
I think, as a writer, I'm in my own head.
I think riots happen when communities are under pressure for long periods of time. That's not a mistake.
Eddie Conway is central to my first memories. My parents used to take me to, when it was open, the Baltimore city penitentiary to see Eddie Conway - I was talking to my dad about this recently - from the time I might have been one or two years old. I mean, literally, my first memories are of black men in jail, specifically of Eddie Conway.
An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future.
Just because you came here in 1880, 1950, whenever, you became an American. You get to celebrate July 4th like every other American. You don't just get the good part. You get the bad part, too. You get all of it.
I wouldn't argue that Mitt Romney is a white supremacist.
I think at places like 'Slate' or the magazine where I work, there was a really poor record of hiring African-American writers. It was really that simple. And I think with the proliferation of the Internet and Internet media, it has been a little harder to maintain that gatekeeper position.
I'm not familiar particularly with Hillary Clinton's neighborhood, but I wish people were a little bit more curious about what we call privilege and about why it's there. Black people in this country have no choice but to be curious. We have to know. I wish folks would do a little bit more investigation.
Long view of history shows evil triumphing more often than we'd like to admit. That's just how it is. I don't despair too much about dying, either. It's just a fact of being human.
When you read a comic book, there's a space between what's happening on the panel and what you have to literally see in your mind. That's not true of movies, where you see everything.
If you are attempting to study American history, and you don't understand the force of white supremacy, you fundamentally misunderstand America.
Humans also tend to find community to be pleasurable, and within the boundaries of community relationships, words - often ironic and self-deprecating - are always spoken that take on other meanings when uttered by others.
If Obama's enormous symbolic power draws primarily from being the country's first black president, it also draws from his membership in hip-hop's foundational generation.
Donald Trump did not appear by magic.
The progressive approach to policy which directly addresses the effects of white supremacy is simple - talk about class and hope no one notices.
When I see the Confederate flag, I see the attempt to raise an empire in slavery. It really, really is that simple. I don't understand how anybody with any sort of education on the Civil War can see anything else.
I want to be really, really clear about this. It doesn't mean that everyone or even the majority of people who voted for Donald Trump are racist or white supremacists or anything like that. But what it means is that it's not a mistake that Trump began his campaign with birthersism.
Storytellers have the right to answer any question they choose.
One of the things that's really, really present in 'Between the World and Me' is, I am in some ways outside of the African-American tradition.
The two endorsements I'm most proud of come from Isabel Wilkerson and Toni Morrison. The latter is the greatest American fiction writer of our time, and the former is on her way to being the greatest American nonfiction writer of our time.
You can live in the world of myth and be taken seriously.
Abraham Lincoln was killed by the forces of white supremacy.
Throughout his eight years in office, Barack Obama endured a campaign of illegitimacy waged either by pluralities or majorities of the Republican party. Donald Trump rooted his candidacy in that campaign. It's fairly obvious.
The thing people have to remember is there's nothing natural about racism as it exists in America. I mean, we know this historically. We can look at 1619, when Africans first came here, and how early African slaves intermixed pretty indiscriminately with indentured white servants.
I feel sorry for people who only know comic books through movies. I really do.
I think the president Barack Obama adopted some of that same language, but took it into the White House. And I think, like, there's a crucial difference between being, you know, Joe Schmo in the neighborhood and being the head, you know, of the government that, you know, in many ways is largely responsible for those conditions in the first place.
It was a week after Donald Trump had won. And initially he was still optimistic. He felt that things would be OK ultimately. And I have to tell you, this is the area where, you know, I see, you know, some degree of contradiction. I mean, the president, you know, at one point when he was campaigning said I believe that Donald Trump was not qualified to run a 7-Eleven.
As an African-American, we stand on the shoulders of people who fought despite not seeing victories in their lifetime or even in their children's lifetime or even in their grandchildren's lifetime. So fatalism isn't really an option.
I would flip this the other way and say over 90 percent of African-Americans voted against Donald Trump.
I feel some need to represent where I'm from. But ultimately, I think my only real responsibility is to - as much as possible - interrogate my own truths. This is to say not merely writing what I think is true, but using the writing to turn that alleged truth over and over, to stress-test it, in the aim of producing something readable.
Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.
Typically, there's this perspective among writers - and black writers: there's this idea that there is one person - and maybe beyond writers - among blacks, there is always one person who everyone should go to learn about all things black.
I've seen, and liked, 'Insecure' and 'Atlanta.'.
I write what I write in the way that I write it. I'm not being abstract, you know. I'm talking about something that, you know, is a part of my life.
We have this long history of racism in this country, and as it happens, the criminal justice system has been perhaps the most prominent instrument for administering racism. But the racism doesn't actually come from the criminal justice system.
When people who are not black are interested in what I do, frankly, I'm always surprised. I don't know if it's my low expectations for white people or what.
I don't completely understand why people in Aspen want to hear what I have to say.
Like a lot of people, I'm very, very concerned about Senator Clinton's record. I'm very, very concerned about where her positions were in the 1990s, when we had some of the most disgusting legislation in terms of our criminal justice, really, in this country's history.
Amiri Baraka went to Howard. Lucille Clifton went to Howard. Ossie Davis went to Howard. And I was aware of that when I was there. Charles Drew went to Howard. Thurgood Marshall went to the law school. Being aware of that and having all of that brought to bear, again, it's one of those things that I can't really separate from my career as a writer.
My dad always associated information with liberation. He was very much in that Malcolm X tradition.
The FHA literally drew up the redlining map and then basically distributed - I'm sorry, the Home Owners' Loan Corporation actually did it, and then distributed to banks who used that as policy to determine how they would lend and who they would lend to. The racism in the system was pervasive and total.
People sort of went crazy when 'BTWAM' came out. I'm happy a bunch of people read it. I'm happy it touched so many people. I'm less happy that it became an object for certain folks or was discussed that way. I'm less happy that journalists started scrolling through my kid's Instagram account.
Germany has spent the decades since World War II in national penance for Nazi crimes. America spent the decades after the Civil War transforming Confederate crimes into virtues. It is illegal to fly the Nazi flag in Germany. The Confederate flag is enmeshed in the state flag of Mississippi.
The symbolic power of Barack Obama's presidency - that whiteness was no longer strong enough to prevent peons taking up residence in the castle - assaulted the most deeply rooted notions of white supremacy and instilled fear in its adherents and beneficiaries.
What sets black people apart is not some deficit in personal responsibility. It's the weight on our shoulders. That is what's actually different. We have the weight and burden of history.
I just think that if one is going to preach nonviolence and one is going to advocate for nonviolence, one's standard should be consistent.
Donald Trump went on to, you know, otherize Muslims, otherize Latinos, otherize women, that he built out from that. And it can be true that a unique, you know, individual like Barack Obama can succeed in spite of that and still be the case that that force is quite, quite strong.
I don't attempt to make people uncomfortable; I think that my standards in terms of art and journalism always have necessitated my discomfort.
Hunter S. Thompson
Rita Mae Brown
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
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