Longform Links – Ta-Nehisi Coates Edition

Ta-Nehisi Coates (Blog) – Depressing

(Emphasis mine – LDP)

Feminists have expended whole barrels of ink wondering why the fuck they have virtually no following among black women. But over the past week all I’ve heard is this stupid-ass attempt to raise the profile of privileged white women at the expense of black boys and girls who I see out on Lennox Avenue scrapping in the belly of the beast. Nothing is more irritating than watching people who think they know what beef is because they watched Roots, and took an Af-Am Studies class at Wellesley, tell me that it’s now all good. Hillary, and people who support this sort of invective, are loathsome and disgusting. I don’t care if they’re racist–they clearly find racism useful. The only women who they care about, the only young girls who they truly are concerned about, are the ones from their side of the tracks.

The Nation – A Deeper Black

Meanwhile, African-American voters have broken for Obama in margins that make Hillary Clinton look about as popular in the neighborhood as Rudy Giuliani. In this, the hamfisted and befuddled intellects of the world see the “advantages” of being black: chief among them a mindless mass of zombies willing to stumble into poll booths and press a button for the black guy. But what the African-American Obama voter sees is so much more than just the first black President. Indeed, she sees the blackest man to take the public stage ever. Forget about reparations, welfare and white guilt. Forget about 400 years, forty acres and a mule. Forget about the Confederate flag, marching through Jena and Duke lacrosse. Barack Obama is black in the Zen-like way in which white people are white–without explanation. Without self-consciousness. Without permission.


This is why so much of what’s been said about Barack Obama and African-Americans has been so shockingly wrong. Intellectuals examining Obama are trapped in an ancient dynamic–one that even in its heyday was overstated–in which white and black America are constantly at each other’s throats, and agree on nothing. The either/or fallacy is their default setting. (“Assimilation, not blackness, is the road to success,” writes Steele.) They were made for a world where affirmative action and welfare reform were campaign issues, not one where universal healthcare and the Iraq War have dominated the debate.


This is the blackness of Barack Obama. It is an identity that asserts itself without conscious thought. It has no need of marches and placards. It rejects an opportunistic ignorance of racism but understands that esoteric ramblings about white-skin privilege do not move the discussion further. It does not need to bluster, to scream, to hyperbolize. Obama’s blackness is like any other secure marker of identity, subtle and irreducible to a list of demands.

It also lines up perfectly with even those younger blacks who’ve never ventured beyond the veil but who, minus the shadow of segregation, have concluded that their skin is as worthy as the next man’s. This is why all the fuss over how much or how little Obama addresses racism misses the point. Obama mentions white racism about as often as black people actually think about white racism–which is to say rarely.

Ta Nehisi Coates (Blog) – About That Assassination Remark

(This is the whole post, because it is so short – LDP)

I’m gonna disagree with a lot Obama-ites and say that it was a mistake. I say that, not out of any love for Hillary Clinton, but because I can’t see how this remark helps her at all. It’s inconceivable to me that this would be a strategy. More likely she’s tired and said something stupid.

But this brings me to two points. 1.) Hillary Clinton is an overrated candidate. For all the talk about toughness, in the waning days of the campaign, she has become a gaffe-o-matic. Why should we believe she would be stronger in the general.

2.) This is why it’s foolish to compare racism and sexism. Hillary and some her blind-ass feminist supporters have asserted that there has been no racism in this campaign, or none when compared to racism. But Barack Obama had to get Secret Service protection before any candidate in history. I wonder if that has to do with racism. Part of this is our fault as we’ve allowed the definition of racism to devolve into the spectacular–the Rodney King tape or a Don Imus rant.

But the ugliest aspects are the things you don’t see, or don’t care to see. There is no American tradition of assassination in the feminist community. The sort of violence that consistently hung over Civil Rights workers, and ultimately got Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King, never hung over Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan. Again I think Hillary simply made a mistake. But I also think were she from my side of the tracks, a place where the assassination of black public figures has altered whole lives, she wouldn’t have said something that stupid. Ditto for Steinem, who if she’d ever spent any significant time around black folks, would know that there are forces which are just as restricting as gender. I still don’t think Clinton realizes what she said–she apologized to the Kennedy’s, but not to Obama. The blindness is strong in that one.

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