There’s so much wrong with the below article to me. First off is the notion of a “black freedom struggle”. What’s wrong with that? These aren’t blacks in some other country, it’s Americans. They are free. They can move about the country, work, play, get jobs, be on TV, become president. If that doesn’t suit you, if that level of freedom doesn’t suit you, I’m telling you now to wake up, it’s all there is. It’s the best the world has to offer and you aren’t ever going to be more free anywhere else. The only way you could be more free is to reshape America into one where the government steps back and away from your life and lets you live it.
This fellow has written a book. The title of that book says a lot. Ta-“We Were Eight Years in Power”. We? What he means is black people of course. Because race is all that matters. What he fails to understand, or seems to fail to understand, is that Obama wasn’t really an African-American president. He had black skin alright but he wasn’t raised to be “down with the struggle”. He is proof it’s not the skin, it’s what’s within.
The author of the article doesn’t think Mr. Coates goes far enough though. Coates writes about white supremacy but where he fails, according to the author, he “…never connects this ugly legacy to the predatory capitalist practices”. Oh, I suppose I can see how, among a people who were literally bought and sold that the idea of commerce might be unseemly. But that’s not the author’s beef. He doesn’t like greed you see. Greed, that’s so horrible a thing. But greed really isn’t a thing that anyone else can identify. You can’t look at another person and know if they are greedy because greed is internal. Possessions do not equal greed. Greed is an, “intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.” Just because I own stuff, doesn’t mean I have an intense and selfish desire in my heart. Not intense OR selfish, intense AND selfish. I might have an intense desire for my books but I lend them.
The article goes on. And on. And on. But all it reads like to me is a racist’s rant about someone who isn’t as racists as the author would like him to be.
There’s racism, and layers of racism within racism. There’s this grotesque concept of not being “black enough” or white-ish, or an Uncle Tom. For the vast majority of Americans racism is dead. Absolutely dead. With the exception of a handful of idiots, that everyone agrees are idiots, no one gives a rat’s hind end that your skin is black. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe black people are realizing, they aren’t special anymore. Maybe to some of them that’s okay because it means they are accepted and that’s all they ever wanted. But for some that means no one cares about them and they have nothing if not the struggle. When all you care about is your black skin, and your black skin isn’t important, then what have you got left? A shell full of nothing but hate that turns to the rage of impotence, a shell that happens to be black.
But that’s where this is important to talk about. Such people become dangerous. They have dangerous ideas and dangerous motivations. Their very impotence becomes the fuel for violence. I’ve often said there is no emotion more powerful or dangerous than frustration. Hate explodes and is gone, but frustration grows a malevolent foundation that sustains an individual in what they feel is their “right” and proper place in the world, to be above those who have frustrated them.
Ta-Nehisi Coates’ We Were Eight Years in Power, a book about Barack Obama’s presidency and the tenacity of white supremacy, has captured the attention of many of us. One crucial question is why now in this moment has his apolitical pessimism gained such wide acceptance?