+1443 776-2705 panelessays@gmail.com

Follow the instructions in Assignment 1, Assignment 2, Film Analysis #4 Fall 21 and KINE 3000 Final Project.

Read Cornel West-ta-Nehisi Coates Is The Neoliberal Face Of The Black Freedom Struggle and Allison Keyes – A Long-Lost Manuscript Contains a Searing Eyewitness Account of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. And finish the two readings. Complete in two docx files. Each reading response should be a 1-2 page typed response to the assigned reading.  It should be double spaced, 12pt font, Times New Roman.  Beyond those requirements, formatting doesn’t particularly matter, I’m just looking for your reaction to the assigned reading (what you thought of it, and why).

Research Paper:  Systemic Racism’s Impact & Possible Solutions

Assignment:  After numerous class discussions, viewing Ava DuVernay’s documentary, 13th, and reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, and various class handouts, I’m asking you to discuss the following in no less than 2,000 words:

1. Provide a thorough description of systemic racism and how it works.

2. Explain 2-3 ways in which systemic racism impacts

3. Propose 2-3 possible solutions to combat systemic racism, and then choose one of them as your preferred solution. Please compare and contrast these solutions to demonstrate why your preferred solution is better than the other(s).

Requirements:                          

1. 2,000-2,500 words, plus a Title, Abstract, and References page (see handout for format).

2. No less than seven (7) academic sources, at least two of which MUST be chosen from the works mentioned above (Coates, Alexander, and Duvernay). Additional sources are optional but must be academic in nature.

3. Define systemic racism.

4. Discuss no less than two (2) ways systemic racism impacts society.

5. Propose no less than two (2) solutions to the problems you discuss.

6. Compare and contrast your chosen solutions and choose one of them as your preferred solution.

7. Present a clear, arguable thesis statement in the introduction that clearly states your chosen problems and your proposed solutions.

8. MUST be written in a formal, academic tone (third person).

9. Strict adherence to APA formatting (12 pt. Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins all around, double-spaced, etc.).

The successful paper will do the following:

· Focus on the topics provided with adequate examples/examination of these topics

· Provide evidence (quotes) that demonstrate the topics you’re analyzing

· Demonstrate critical thinking, reading, and writing skills by making sound claims and supporting them with evidence in an organized and logical manner

· Have well organized paragraphs with clear topic sentences

· Effectively use transitions between paragraphs and ideas

· Support the thesis statement and other claims with textual evidence and examples

· Come to a conclusion that moves beyond summary

· Effectively synthesize textual material via quotations

Please Do NOT:

· Use more than one (1) block quote.

· Write in the first or second person (unless you are directly quoting someone)

· Use generalities or offensive language in any way

Film Analysis #4

For this assignment you are to analyze an example of film editing and/or sound in the movie

“The Butler.” Your main goal is to explain how specific elements of film editing and/or sound

contribute to the viewer’s experience of watching the movie.

Grading Rubric:

This paper analyzes a specific aspect of film editing or film sound, with 4 grading criteria:

1. Define the element of film editing or film sound being analyzed, being sure to
incorporate information from the text book and course materials (cite the page # or class

video).

2. Describe how that element of film editing or film sound is illustrated in a specific scene
(with time stamp).

3. Explain how the viewer’s experience of the movie is influenced by that film editing or film

sound.

4. Identify how the scene contributes to the movie’s overall story.

500 words maximum. So, you need to be very specific in what you chose to analyze. You

will NOT be able to analyze multiple scenes or elements of film form. Get right to the

point and be concise.

Grading – 48 points possible (you will receive a score of 1-12 on each of the 4 criteria):

Excellent (11-12pts) Good (9-10 pts) Sufficient (7-8 pts) Insufficient (4-6pts)

Thorough
explanation that is
directly connected to
the text book and
course materials.
Detailed description
that appropriately
illustrates the
relevant element of
film editing/sound.
Thoughtful
discussion of the
meaning and
narrative significance
of the chosen
example.

Sound explanation
with limited
connections to
course materials.
Clear but general
description of
editing/sound. Clear
but less substantial
discussion of
meaning and
narrative
significance.

Some explanation
offered with little
connections to
course materials.
Partial description of
film editing/sound.
Slight discussion of
meaning and
significance.

Unclear or no
definition offered with
unclear or no
connections to
course materials.
Incoherent or no
description of film
editing/sound. Trivial
or no discussion of
meaning or
significance.

KINE 3000 Final Project

Instructions: For the final project, you are going to synthesize the knowledge that you have learned across the semester and create a wellness plan for yourself that you can use. The goal is to take the knowledge and put it to use with yourself as the participants. For the project, you will have to (1) outline what behaviors you want to engage in, (2) provide evidence from the class as to how this health behavior will lead to beneficial outcomes, and (3) create a framework to track the behavior over time.

Outline:

You need to choose an activity that will help you improve your life in each of these categories:

1. Happiness/Subjective Well Being

2. Physical Activity

3. Mindfulness

Then for each of those categories you need to write a paragraph that hits the following points:

1. Why did you choose that activity?

2. What benefits has this activity shown in the past?

3. Does research support the use of this activity?

4. If you are not able to do the activity in the future, what alternative activities can elicit the same benefits?

5. How often do you plan on doing this activity?

Lastly, you need to create a framework where you can track your behaviors. It could be a table, a grid, or anything else that makes it clear you will be able to track the behavior. You also need to include space in the table for how often you plan on doing the activity each week.

10

Exceeds/Always

Criterion evidence is clear, appropriate for the course and demonstrates “best practices”

8

Meets/Often

Criterion evidence is clear and appropriate for the course, but there is room for improvement

6

Partially Meets/Sometimes

Criterion evidence exists but needs to be presented more clearly or fully developed

4

Does not meet/rarely

No criterion evidence is exists or is present but not appropriate for the class

10 pts

Exceeds

8 pts

Meets

6 pts

Partially Meets

4 pts

Does not meet

1

Material Mastery (60 points)

Demonstrates complete mastery of the topic and communicates all of the relevant information.

Includes relevant information but might have presented a simplified view to the topic

Left out some critical information that was necessary for the topic of presentation

Presented factually inaccurate information or showed little effort.

2

Choice of Activity

Activity clearly provides health benefits.

Activity provides the majority of the benefits listed.

Activity does little to provide the listed benefits.

Activity does not provide health benefits.

3

Visual Aids

Easy to understand information

Somewhat understandable information

Information is difficult to decipher

Professor is lost when looking at the visual aid

4

Organization

Excellent organization throughout the paper

Good organization but the student could have employed text features more effectively

Attempted organization but it did not enhance the paper

Lacking organization in the paper

5

Creativity

Unique paper that captures the audience’s attention with its originality

Clear that the student took time to attempt creativity

Some creativity

No attempt at creativity

By Michelle Alexander
Opinion Columnist

Nov. 8, 2018

In the midterms, Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to legalize

marijuana, Florida restored the vote to over 1.4 million people with felony

convictions, and Louisiana passed a constitutional amendment requiring unanimous

jury verdicts in felony trials. These are the latest examples of the astonishing progress

that has been made in the last several years on a wide range of criminal justice issues.

Since 2010, when I published “The New Jim Crow” — which argued that a system of

legal discrimination and segregation had been born again in this country because of

the war on drugs and mass incarceration — there have been significant changes to

drug policy, sentencing and re-entry, including “ban the box” initiatives aimed at

eliminating barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated people.

This progress is unquestionably good news, but there are warning signs blinking

brightly. Many of the current reform efforts contain the seeds of the next generation

of racial and social control, a system of “e-carceration” that may prove more

dangerous and more difficult to challenge than the one we hope to leave behind.

Bail reform is a case in point. Thanks in part to new laws and policies — as well as

actions like the mass bailout of inmates in New York City jails that’s underway — the

unconscionable practice of cash bail is finally coming to an end. In August, California

became the first state to decide to get rid of its cash bail system; last year, New Jersey

virtually eliminated the use of money bonds.

But what’s taking the place of cash bail may prove even worse in the long run. In

Opinion | The Newest Jim Crow – The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/08/opinion/sunday/criminal-justice-re…

1 of 5 11/14/2018, 7:18 AM

California, a presumption of detention will effectively replace eligibility for immediate

release when the new law takes effect in October 2019. And increasingly, computer

algorithms are helping to determine who should be caged and who should be set

“free.” Freedom — even when it’s granted, it turns out — isn’t really free.

Under new policies in California, New Jersey, New York and beyond, “risk

assessment” algorithms recommend to judges whether a person who’s been arrested

should be released. These advanced mathematical models — or “weapons of math

destruction” as data scientist Cathy O’Neil calls them — appear colorblind on the

surface but they are based on factors that are not only highly correlated with race and

class, but are also significantly influenced by pervasive bias in the criminal justice

system.

As O’Neil explains, “It’s tempting to believe that computers will be neutral and

objective, but algorithms are nothing more than opinions embedded in mathematics.”

Challenging these biased algorithms may be more difficult than challenging

discrimination by the police, prosecutors and judges. Many algorithms are fiercely

guarded corporate secrets. Those that are transparent — you can actually read the

code — lack a public audit so it’s impossible to know how much more often they fail

for people of color.

Even if you’re lucky enough to be set “free” from a brick-and-mortar jail thanks to a

computer algorithm, an expensive monitoring device likely will be shackled to your

ankle — a GPS tracking device provided by a private company that may charge you

around $300 per month, an involuntary leasing fee. Your permitted zones of

movement may make it difficult or impossible to get or keep a job, attend school, care

for your kids or visit family members. You’re effectively sentenced to an open-air

digital prison, one that may not extend beyond your house, your block or your

neighborhood. One false step (or one malfunction of the GPS tracking device) will

bring cops to your front door, your workplace, or wherever they find you and snatch

you right back to jail.

Who benefits from this? Private corporations. According to a report released last

month by the Center for Media Justice, four large corporations — including the GEO

Opinion | The Newest Jim Crow – The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/08/opinion/sunday/criminal-justice-re…

2 of 5 11/14/2018, 7:18 AM

Group, one of the largest private prison companies — have most of the private

contracts to provide electronic monitoring for people on parole in some 30 states,

giving them a combined annual revenue of more than $200 million just for

e-monitoring. Companies that earned millions on contracts to run or serve prisons

have, in an era of prison restructuring, begun to shift their business model to add

electronic surveillance and monitoring of the same population. Even if old-fashioned

prisons fade away, the profit margins of these companies will widen so long as

growing numbers of people find themselves subject to perpetual criminalization,

surveillance, monitoring and control.

Who loses? Nearly everyone. A recent analysis by a Brookings Institution fellow found

that “efforts to reduce recidivism through intensive supervision are not working.”

Reducing the requirements and burdens of community supervision, so that people

can more easily hold jobs, care for children and escape the stigma of criminality

“would be a good first step toward breaking the vicious incarceration cycle,” the

report said.

Many reformers rightly point out that an ankle bracelet is preferable to a prison cell.

Yet I find it difficult to call this progress. As I see it, digital prisons are to mass

incarceration what Jim Crow was to slavery.

If you asked slaves if they would rather live with their families and raise their own

children, albeit subject to “whites only signs,” legal discrimination and Jim Crow

segregation, they’d almost certainly say: I’ll take Jim Crow. By the same token, if you

ask prisoners whether they’d rather live with their families and raise their children,

albeit with nearly constant digital surveillance and monitoring, they’d almost

certainly say: I’ll take the electronic monitor. I would too. But hopefully we can now

see that Jim Crow was a less restrictive form of racial and social control, not a real

alternative to racial caste systems. Similarly, if the goal is to end mass incarceration

and mass criminalization, digital prisons are not an answer. They’re just another way

of posing the question.

Some insist that e-carceration is “a step in the right direction.” But where are we

going with this? A growing number of scholars and activists predict that “e-

gentrification” is where we’re headed as entire communities become trapped in digital

Opinion | The Newest Jim Crow – The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/08/opinion/sunday/criminal-justice-re…

3 of 5 11/14/2018, 7:18 AM

prisons that keep them locked out of neighborhoods where jobs and opportunity can

be found.

If that scenario sounds far-fetched, keep in mind that mass incarceration itself was

unimaginable just 40 years ago and that it was born partly out of well-intentioned

reforms — chief among them mandatory sentencing laws that liberal proponents

predicted would reduce racial disparities in sentencing. While those laws may have

looked good on paper, they were passed within a political climate that was

overwhelmingly hostile and punitive toward poor people and people of color,

resulting in a prison-building boom, an increase in racial and class disparities in

sentencing, and a quintupling of the incarcerated population.

Fortunately, a growing number of advocates are organizing to ensure that important

reforms, such as ending cash bail, are not replaced with systems that view poor

people and people of color as little more than commodities to be bought, sold,

evaluated and managed for profit. In July, more than 100 civil rights, faith, labor,

legal and data science groups released a shared statement of concerns regarding the

use of pretrial risk assessment instruments; numerous bail reform groups, such as

Chicago Community Bond Fund, actively oppose the expansion of e-carceration.

If our goal is not a better system of mass criminalization, but instead the creation of

safe, caring, thriving communities, then we ought to be heavily investing in quality

schools, job creation, drug treatment and mental health care in the least advantaged

communities rather than pouring billions into their high-tech management and

control. Fifty years ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. warned that “when

machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more

important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and

militarism are incapable of being conquered.” We failed to heed his warning back

then. Will we make a different choice today?

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion)

and Instagram.

Michelle Alexander became a New York Times columnist in 2018. She is a civil
rights lawyer and advocate, legal scholar and author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass
Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”

Opinion | The Newest Jim Crow – The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/08/opinion/sunday/criminal-justice-re…

4 of 5 11/14/2018, 7:18 AM

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page SR3 of the New York edition with the headline: The Newest Jim Crow

Opinion | The Newest Jim Crow – The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/08/opinion/sunday/criminal-justice-re…

5 of 5 11/14/2018, 7:18 AM

A Long-Lost Manuscript Contains a Searing
Eyewitness Account of the Tulsa Race
Massacre of 1921

A n O k la ho m a la wy er d e t ai ls t he a t ta c k b y hu n d r ed s o f w h i t es o n th e t h riv i n g b l a c k
n e i g h bo r ho o d w h er e hu n d r ed s d i ed 9 5 y ear s a go

B y A ll is o n Ke y es
s m i th s o ni an m a g . co m
M a y 2 7, 2 01 6

Original Article URL

The ten-page manuscript is typewritten, on yellowed legal paper, and folded in
thirds. But the words, an eyewitness account of the May 31, 1921, racial massacre
that destroyed what was known as Tulsa, Oklahoma’s “Black Wall Street,” are
searing.

“I could see planes circling in mid-air. They grew in number and hummed, darted
and dipped low. I could hear something like hail falling upon the top of my office
building. Down East Archer, I saw the old Mid-Way hotel on fire, burning from its
top, and then another and another and another building began to burn from their
top,” wrote Buck Colbert Franklin (1879-1960).

The Oklahoma lawyer, father of famed African-American historian John Hope
Franklin (1915-2009), was describing the attack by hundreds of whites on the
thriving black neighborhood known as Greenwood in the booming oil town. “Lurid
flames roared and belched and licked their forked tongues into the air. Smoke
ascended the sky in thick, black volumes and amid it all, the planes—now a dozen
or more in number—still hummed and darted here and there with the agility of
natural birds of the air.”

Franklin writes that he left his law office, locked the door, and descended to the
foot of the steps.

“The side-walks were literally covered with burning turpentine balls. I knew all too
well where they came from, and I knew all too well why every burning building
first caught from the top,” he continues. “I paused and waited for an opportune

time to escape. ‘Where oh where is our splendid fire department with its half dozen
stations?’ I asked myself. ‘Is the city in conspiracy with the mob?’”

Franklin’s harrowing manuscript now resides among the collections of the
Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The
previously unknown document was found last year, purchased from a private seller
by a group of Tulsans and donated to the museum with the support of the Franklin
family.

In the manuscript, Franklin tells of his encounters with an African-American
veteran, named Mr. Ross. It begins in 1917, when Franklin meets Ross while
recruiting young black men to fight in World War I. It picks up in 1921 with his
own eyewitness account of the Tulsa race riots, and ends ten years later with the
story of how Mr. Ross’s life has been destroyed by the riots. Two original
photographs of Franklin were part of the donation. One depicts him operating with
his associates out of a Red Cross tent five days after the riots.

John W. Franklin, a senior program manager with the museum, is the grandson of
manuscript’s author and remembers the first time he read the found document.

“I wept. I just wept. It’s so beautifully written and so powerful, and he just takes
you there,” Franklin marvels. “You wonder what happened to the other people.
What was the emotional impact of having your community destroyed and having
to flee for your lives?”

The younger Franklin says Tulsa has been in denial over the fact that people were
cruel enough to bomb the black community from the air, in private planes, and that
black people were machine-gunned down in the streets. The issue was economics.
Franklin explains that Native Americans and African-Americans became wealthy
thanks to the discovery of oil in the early 1900s on what had previously been seen
as worthless land.

“That’s what leads to Greenwood being called the Black Wall Street. It had
restaurants and furriers and jewelry stores and hotels,” John W. Franklin explains,
“and the white mobs looted the homes and businesses before they set fire to the
community. For years black women would see white women walking down the
street in their jewelry and snatch it off.”

Museum curator Paul Gardullo, who has spent five years along with Franklin
collecting artifacts from the riot and the aftermath, says: “It was the frustration of

poor whites not knowing what to do with a successful black community, and in
coalition with the city government were given permission to do what they did.”

“It’s a scenario that you see happen from place to place around our country . . .
from Wilmington, Delaware, to Washington, D.C., to Chicago, and these are in
some ways mass lynchings,” he says

As in other places, the Tulsa race riot started with newspaper reports that a black
man had assaulted a white elevator operator. He was arrested, and Franklin says
black World War I vets rushed to the courthouse to prevent a lynching.

“Then whites were deputized and handed weapons, the shooting starts and then it
gets out of hand,” Franklin says. “It went on for two days until the entire black
community is burned down.”

More than 35 blocks were destroyed, along with more than 1,200 homes, and some
300 people died, mostly blacks. The National Guard was called out after the
governor declared martial law, and imprisoned all blacks that were not already in
jail. More than 6,000 people were held, according to the Tulsa Historical Society
and Museum, some for as long as eight days.

“(Survivors) talk about how the city was shut down in the riot,” Gardullo says.
“They shut down the phone systems, the railway. . . . They wouldn’t let the Red
Cross in. There was complicity between the city government and the mob. It was
mob rule for two days, and the result was the complete devastation of the
community.”

Gardullo adds that the formulaic stereotype about young black men raping young
white women was used with great success from the end of slavery forward to the
middle of the 20th century.

“It was a formula that resulted in untold numbers of lynchings across the nation,”
Gardullo says. “The truth of the matter has to do with the threat that black power,
black economic power, black cultural power, black success, posed to individuals
and . . . the whole system of white supremacy. That’s embedded within our
nation’s history.”

Franklin says he has issues with the words often used to describe the attack that
decimated the black community.

“The term riot is contentious, because it assumes that black people started the
violence, as they were accused of doing by whites,” Franklin says. “We
increasingly use the term massacre, or I use the European term, pogrom.”

Among the artifacts Gardullo and John W. Franklin have obtained, are a handful of
pennies collected off the ground from a young boy’s home burned to the ground
during the riot, items with labels saying this was looted from a black church during
the riot, and postcards with photos from the race riots, some showing burning
corpses.

“Riot postcards were often distributed . . . crassly and cruelly . . . as a way to sell
white supremacy,” Gardullo says. “At the time they were shown as documents that
were shared between white community members to demonstrate their power. Later
. . . they became part of the body of evidence that was used during the commission
for reparation.”

In 2001, the Tulsa Race Riot Commission issued a report detailing the damage
from the riots, but legislative and legal attempts to gain reparations for the
survivors have failed.

The Tulsa race riots aren’t mentioned in most American history textbooks, and
many people don’t know that they happened.

Curator Paul Gardullo says the crucial question is why not?

“Throughout American history there’s been a vast silence about the atrocities that
were performed in the service of white history. . . . There are a lot of silences in
relation to this story, and a lot of guilt and shame,” Gardullo explains. That’s one
reason why the events of May 31 and June 1, 1921, will be featured in an
exhibition at the new museum called “The Power of Place.” Gardullo says the title
is about more than geography.

“(It’s) the power of certain places, about displacement, movement, about what
place means for people,” he says. “This is about emotion and culture and memory.
. . . How do you tell a story about destruction? How do you balance the fortitude
and resilience of people in response to that devastation? How do you fill the
silences? How do you address the silences about a story that this community has
held in silence for so long and in denial for so long?”

Despite the devastation, the black community in Tulsa was able to rebuild on the
ashes of its neighborhood, partly because Buck Colbert Franklin battled all the way
to the Oklahoma Supreme Court to defeat a law that would have effectively
prevented African-Americans from doing so. By 1925, there was again a thriving
black business district. John W. Franklin says his grandfather’s manuscript is
important for people to see because it deals with “suppressed history.”

“This is an eyewitness account from a reputable source about what he saw
happen,” he grandson John W. Franklin says. “It is definitely relevant to today,
because I think our notions of justice are based partially on our own history and
our knowledge of history. But we are an a-historical society, in that we don’t know
our past.”

The disagreement between Coates and me is clear: his view of black America is
narrow and dangerously misleading

Sun 17 Dec 2017 05.00 EST

‘Coates’ allegiance to Obama has produced an impoverished understanding of black history.’ Photograph: Robin Platzer/Robin
Platzer/Twin Images

a-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?

Coates and I come from a great tradition of the black freedom struggle. He represents the neoliberal

Ta-Nehisi Coates is the neoliberal face of the black freedom struggle | C… https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/17/ta-nehisi-coat…

1 of 3 5/3/2018, 7:42 PM

wing that sounds militant about white supremacy but renders black fightback invisible. This wing
reaps the benefits of the neoliberal establishment that rewards silences on issues such as Wall Street
greed or Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and people.

The disagreement between Coates and me is clear: any analysis or vision of our world that omits the
centrality of Wall Street power, US military policies, and the complex dynamics of class, gender, and
sexuality in black America is too narrow and dangerously misleading. So it is with Ta-Nehisi Coates’
worldview.

Coates rightly highlights the vicious legacy of white supremacy – past and present. He sees it
everywhere and ever reminds us of its plundering effects. Unfortunately, he hardly keeps track of our
fightback, and never connects this ugly legacy to the predatory capitalist practices, imperial policies
(of war, occupation, detention, assassination) or the black elite’s refusal to confront poverty,
patriarchy or transphobia.

In short, Coates fetishizes white supremacy. He makes it almighty, magical and unremovable. What
concerns me is his narrative of “defiance”. For Coates, defiance is narrowly aesthetic – a personal
commitment to writing with no connection to collective action. It generates crocodile tears of
neoliberals who have no intention of sharing power or giving up privilege.

When he honestly asks: “How do you defy a power that insists on claiming you?”, the answer should
be clear: they claim you because you are silent on what is a threat to their order (especially Wall Street
and war). You defy them when you threaten that order.

Coates tries to justify his “defiance” by an appeal to “black atheism, to a disbelief in dreams and moral
appeal”. He not only has “no expectations of white people at all”, but for him, if freedom means
anything at all it is “this defiance”.

Note that his perception of white people is tribal and his conception of freedom is neoliberal. Racial
groups are homogeneous and freedom is individualistic in his world. Classes don’t exist and empires
are nonexistent.

This presidency, he writes, “opened a market” for a new wave of black pundits, intellectuals, writers
and journalists – one that Coates himself has benefited from. And his own literary “dreams” of
success were facilitated by a black neoliberal president who ruled for eight years – an example of
“Black respectability, good Negro government.”

Coates reveals his preoccupation with white acceptance when he writes with genuine euphoria: “As I
watched Barack Obama’s star shoot across the political sky … I had never seen so many white people
cheer on a black man who was neither an athlete nor an entertainer. And it seemed that they loved
him for this, and I thought in those days … that they might love me too.”

There is no doubt that the marketing of Coates – like the marketing of anyone – warrants suspicion.
Does the profiteering of fatalism about white supremacy and pessimism of black freedom fit well in an
age of Trump – an age of neo-fascism, US style?

Coates wisely invokes the bleak worldview of the late great Derrick Bell. But Bell reveled in black
fightback, rejoiced in black resistance and risked his life and career based on his love for black people
and justice. Needless to say, the greatest truth-teller about white supremacy in the 20th century –
Malcolm X – was also deeply pessimistic about America. Yet his pessimism was neither cheap nor

Ta-Nehisi Coates is the neoliberal face of the black freedom struggle | C… https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/17/ta-nehisi-coat…

2 of 3 5/3/2018, 7:42 PM

abstract – it was earned, soaked in blood and tears of love for black people and justice.

Unfortunately, Coates’ allegiance to Obama has produced an impoverished understanding of black
history. He reveals this when he writes: “Ossie Davis famously eulogized Malcolm X as ‘our living,
Black manhood’ and ‘our own Black shining prince.’ Only one man today could bear those twin
honorifics: Barack Obama.”

This gross misunderstanding of who Malcolm X was – the greatest prophetic voice against the
American Empire – and who Barack Obama is – the first black head of the American Empire – speaks
volumes about Coates’ neoliberal view of the world.

Coates praises Obama as a “deeply moral human being” while remaining silent on the 563 drone
strikes, the assassination of US citizens with no trial, the 26,171 bombs dropped on five Muslim-
majority countries in 2016 and the 550 Palestinian children killed with US supported planes in 51
days, etc. He calls Obama “one of the greatest presidents in American history,” who for “eight years …
walked on ice and never fell.”

It is clear that his narrow racial tribalism and myopic political neoliberalism has no place for keeping
track of Wall Street greed, US imperial crimes or black elite indifference to poverty. For example,
there is no serious attention to the plight of the most vulnerable in our community, the LGBT people
who are disproportionately affected by violence, poverty, neglect and disrespect.

The disagreements between Coates and I are substantive and serious. It would be wrong to construe
my quest for truth and justice as motivated by pettiness. Must every serious critique be reduced to a
vicious takedown or an ugly act of hatred? Can we not acknowledge that there are deep disagreements
among us with our very lives and destinies at stake? Is it even possible to downplay career moves and
personal insecurities in order to highlight our clashing and conflicting ways of viewing the cold and
cruel world we inhabit?

I stand with those like Robin DG Kelley, Gerald Horne, Imani Perry and Barbara Ransby who
represent the radical wing of the black freedom struggle. We refuse to disconnect white supremacy
from the realities of class, empire, and other forms of domination – be it ecological, sexual, or others.

The same cannot be said for Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Topics
Race issues
Opinion
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Inequality
comment

Cornel West is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University. He is the
author of Race Matters

Ta-Nehisi Coates is the neoliberal face of the black freedom struggle | C… https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/dec/17/ta-nehisi-coat…

3 of 3 5/3/2018, 7:42 PM

BY TA-NEHISI COATES

Between the World and Me

The Beautiful Struggle

Between
the World
and Me

Between
the World
and Me

‘ I,
Ta-N ehisi Coates

SPIEGEL & GRAU

NEW YORK

— ———– ——- ———·

.
~–.,;•.·”

!

Between tlze World and Me is a work of nonfiction. Some names and identifying

details have been changed.

Copyright© 2015 byTa-Nehisi Coates

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Spi~gel & Grau, an imprint of Random

House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

SPIEGEL & GRAU and the HOUSE colophon are registered trademarks

of Penguin Random House LLC.

The title of this work is drawn from the poem “Between the World and Me”

by Richard Wright, from Wliite Man Listen! copyright© 1957 by Richard

Wright. Used by permission of John Hawkins & Associates, Inc., and the Estate

ofRichardWright.

Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following for permission to reprint

previously published material:

Chris Calhoun Agency: Excerpt from “Ka’ Ba” by Amiri Baraka, copyright©

Estate of Amiri Baraka. Reprinted by permission of the Chris Calhoun Agency.

John Hawkins & Associates, Inc., and the Estate ofRichardWright: Excerpt

from “Between the World and Me” from Mite Man Listen! by Richard Wright,

copyright© 1957 by Richard Wright. Reprinted by permission of John

Hawkins & Associates, Inc., and the Estate of Richard Wright.

Sonia Sanchez: Excerpt from “Malcolm” from Shake Loose My Skin by Sonia
Sanchez (Boston: Beacon Press, 1999), copyright © 1999 by Sonia Sanchez.

Reprinted by permission of Sonia Sanchez.

ISBN 978-0-8129-9354-7
eBook ISBN 978-0-679-64598-6

Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper

randomhousebooks.com

spiegelandgrau.com

19 18 17 16 15 14

Book design by Caroline Cunningham

For David and Kenyatta,

who believed

And one morning while in the woods I stumbled suddenly

upon the thing,

Stumbled upon it in a grassy clearing guarded by scaly oaks

and elms

And the sooty details of the scene rose, thrusting themselves

between the world and me . …

-RICHARD WRIGHT

Between
the World
and Me

I.

Do not speak to me of martyrdom,

of men who die to be remembered

on some parish day.

I don’t believe in dying

though, I too shall die.

And violets like castanets

will echo me.

SONIA SANCHEZ

Son,

Last Sunday the host of a popular news show asked me

what it meant to lose my body. The host was broadcasting

from Washington, D.C., and I was seated in a remote stu­

dio on the far west side of Manhattan. A satellite closed

the miles between us, but no machinery could close the

gap between her world and the world for which I had

been summoned to speak. When the host asked me about

my body, her face faded from the screen, and was replaced

by a scroll of words, written by me earlier that week.

The host read these words for the audience, and when

she finished she turned to the subject of my body, al­

though she did not mention it specifically. But by now I

am accustomed to intelligent people asking about the

condition of my body without realizing the nature of their

request. Specifically, the host wished to know why I felt

6
7

TA-NEHISJ COATES

that white America’s progress, or rather the progress of

those Americans who believe that they are white, was built

on looting and violence. Hearing this, I felt an old and

indistinct sadness well up in me. The answer to this ques­

tion is the record of the believers themselves. The answer
is American history.

There is nothing extreme in this statement. Americans

deify democracy in a way that allows for a dim awareness

that they have, from time to time, stood in defiance of

their God. But democracy is a forgiving God and Amer­

ica’s heresies-torture, theft, enslavement-are so common

among individuals and nations that none can declare them­

selves immune. In fact, Americans, in a real sense, have

never betrayed their God. When Abraham Lincoln de­

clared, in 1863, that the battle of Gettysburg must ensure

“that government of the people, by the people, for the

people, shall not perish from the earth,” he was not merely

being aspirational; at the onset of the Civil War, the United

States of America had one of the highest rates of suffrage

in the world. The question is not whether Lincoln truly

meant “government of the people” but what our country

has, throughout its history, taken the political term “peo­

ple” to actually mean. In 1863 it did not mean your mother

or your grandmother, and it did not mean you and me.

Thus America’s problem is not its betrayal of “government

of the people,” but the means by which “the people” ac­
quired their names.

This leads us to another equally important ideal, one

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

that Americans implicitly accept but to which they make

no conscious claim. Americans believe in the reality of

“race” as a defined, indubitable feature of the natural

world. Racism-the need to ascribe bone-deep features to

people and then humiliate, reduce, and destroy them­

inevitably follows from this inalterable condition. In this

way, racism is rendered as the innocent daughter of Mother

Nature, and one is left to deplore the Middle Passage or

the Trail of Tears the way one deplores an earthquake, a

tornado, or any other phenomenon that can be cast as be­

yond the handiwork of men.

But race is the child of racism, not the father. And the

process of naming “the people” has never been a matter of

genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy.

Difference in hue and hair is old. But the belief in the pre­

eminence of hue and hair, the notion that these factors can

correctly organize a society and that they signify deeper

attributes, which are indelible-this is the new idea at the

heart of these new people who have been brought up hope­

lessly, tragically, deceitfully, to believe that they are white.

These new people are, like us, a modern invention. But

unlike us, their new name has no real meaning divorced

from the m;chinery of criminal power. The new people

were something else before they were white-Catholic,

Corsican, Welsh, Mennonite, Jewish-and if all our na­

tional hopes have any fulfillment, then they will have to be

something else again. Perhaps they will truly become

American and create a nobler basis for their myths. I can-

8 9 TA-NEHISI COATES

not call it. As for now, it must be said that the process of

washing the disparate tribes white, the elevation of the

belief in being white, was not achieved through wine tast­

ings and ice cream socials, but rather through the pillaging

oflife, liberty, labor, and land; through the flaying of backs;

the chaining of limbs; the strangling of dissidents; the de­

struction of families; the rape of mothers; the sale of chil­

dren; and various other acts meant, first and foremost, to

deny you and me the right to secure and govern our own
bodies.

The new people are not original in this. Perhaps there

has been, at some point in history, some great power whose

elevation was exempt from the violent exploitation of

other human bodies. If there has been, I have yet to dis­

cover it. But this banality of violence can never excuse

America, because America makes no claim to the banal.

America believes itself exceptional, the greatest and no­

blest nation ever to exist, a lone champion standing be­

tween the white city of democracy and the terrorists,

despots, barbarians, and other enemies of civilization. One

cannot, at once, claim to be superhuman and then plead

mortal error. I propose to take our countrymen’s claims of

American exceptionalism seriously, which is to say I pro­

pose subjecting our country to an exceptional moral stan­

dard. This is difficult because there exists, all around us, an

apparatus urging us to accept American innoc~nce at face

value and not to inquire too much. And it is so easy to

look away, to live with the fruits of our history and to ig-

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

nore the great evil ·done in all of our names. But you and I

have never truly had that luxury. I think you know.

I write you in your fifteenth year. I am writing you be­

cause this was the year you saw Eric Garner choked to
death for selling cigarettes; because you know now that

Renisha McBride was shot for seeking help, that John

Crawford was shot down for browsing in a department

store. And you have seen men in uniform drive by and

murder Tamir Rice, a twelve-year-old child whom they

were oath-b,;und to protect. And you have seen men in

the same uniforms pummel Marlene Pinnock, someone’s

grandmother, on the side of a road. And you know now, if

you did not before, that the police departments of your

country have been endowed with the authority to destroy

your body. It does not matter if the destruction is the result

of an unfortunate overreaction. It does not matter if it
originates in a misunderstanding. It does not matter if the

destruction springs from a foolish policy. Sell cigarettes

without the proper authority and your body can be de­

stroyed. Resent the people trying to entrap your body and

it can be destroyed. Turn into a dark stairwell and your

body can be destroyed. The destroyers will rarely be held

accountable. Mostly they will receive pensions. And de­

struction is merely the superlative form of a dominion

whose prerogatives include friskings, detainings, beatings,

and humiliations. All of this is common to black people.

And all of this is old for black people. No one is held re­

sponsible.

11 10 TA-NEHISI COATES

There is nothing uniquely evil in these destroyers or

even in this moment. The destroyers are merely men en­

forcing the whims of our country, correctly interpreting

its heritage and legacy. It is hard to face this. But all our

phrasing-race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial

profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy-serves

to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dis­

lodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs,

cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from

this. You must always remember that the sociology, the

history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regres­

sions all land, with great violence, upon the body.

That Sunday, with that host, on that news show, I tried

to explain this as best I could within the time allotted. But

at the end of the segment, the host flashed a widely shared

picture of an eleven-year-old black boy tearfully hugging

a white police officer. Then she asked me about “hope.”

And I knew then that I had failed. And I remembered that

I had expected to fail. And I wondered again at the indis­

tinct sadness welling up in me. Why exactly was I sad? I

came out of the studio and walked for a while. It was a

calm December day. Families, believing themselves white,

were out on the streets. Infants, raised to be white, were

bundled in strollers. And I was sad for these people, much

as I was sad for the host and sad for all the people out there

watching and reveling in a specious hope. I realized then

why I was sad. When the journalist asked me about my

body, it was like she was asking me to awaken her from the

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

most gorgeous dream. I have seen that dream all my life. It
is perfect houses with nice lawns. It is Memorial Day

cookouts, block associations, and driveways. The Dream is

treehouses and the Cub Scouts. The Dream smells like

peppermint but tastes like strawberry shortcake. And for

so long I have wanted to escape into the Dream, to fold

my country over my head like a blanket. But this has never

been an option because the Dream rests on our backs, the

bedding made from our bodies. And knowing this, know­

ing that the Dream persists by warring with the known

world, I was sad for the host, I was sad for all those families,

I was sad for my country, but above all, in that moment, I

was sad for you.
That was the week you learned that the killers of Mi­

chael Brown would go free. The men who had left his

body in the street like some awesome declaration of their

inviolable power would never be punished. It was not my

expectation that anyone would ever be punished. But you

were young and still believed. You stayed up till 11 P.M.

that night, waiting for the announcement of an indict­

ment, and when instead it was announced that there was

none you said, “I’ve got to go,” and you went into your

room, and I heard you crying. I came in five minutes after,

and I didn’t hug you, and I didn’t comfort you, because I

thought it would be wrong to comfort you. I did not tell

you that it would be okay, because I have never believed it

would be okay. What I told you is what your grandparents

tried to tell me: that this is your country; that this is your

12 TA-NEHISJ COATES

world, that this is your body, and you must find some way

to live within the all of it. I tell you now that the question

of how one should live within a black body, within a

country lost in the Dream, is the question of my life, and

the pursuit of this question, I have found, ultimately an­
swers itself.

This must seem strange to you. We live in a “goal­

oriented” era. Our media vocabulary is full of hot takes,

big ideas, and grand theories of everything. But some time

ago I rejected magic in all its forms. This rejection was a

gift from your grandparents, who never tried to console

me with ideas of an afterlife and were skeptical of preor­

dained American glory. In accepting both the chaos of his­

tory and the fact of my total end, I was freed to truly

consider how I wished to live-specifically, how do I live

free in this black body? It is a profound question because

America understands itself as God’s handiwork, but the

black body is the clearest evidence that America is the

work of men. I have asked the question through my read­

ing and writings, through the music of my youth, through

arguments with your grandfather, with your mother, your

aunt Janai, your uncle Ben. I have searched for answers in

nationalist 1nyth, in classrooms, out on the streets, and on

other continents. The question is unanswerable, which is

not to say futile. The greatest reward of this constant inter­

rogation, of confrontation with the brutality 9£ my coun­
try, is that it has freed me from ghosts and girded me

against the sheer terror of disembodiment.

.. • ifi.. : ..
t ‘
L
i
I
f

14 TA-NEHISI COATES

And I am afraid. I feel the fear most acutely whenever

you leave me. But I was afraid long before you, and in this

I was unoriginal. When I was your age the only people I

knew were black, and all of them were power:fully, ada­

mantly, dangerously afraid. I had seen this fear all my young

life, though I had not always recognized it as such.

It was always right in front of me. The fear was there in

the extravagant boys of my neighborhood,.in their large

rings and medallions, their big puffy coats and full-length

fur-collared leathers, which was their armor against their

world. They would stand on the corner of Gwynn Oak

and Liberty, or Cold Spring and Park Heights, or outside

Mondawmin Mall, with their hands dipped in Russell

sweats. I think back on those boys now and all I see is fear,

and all I see is them girding themselves against the ghosts

of the bad old days when the Mississippi mob gathered

’round their grandfathers so that the branches of the black

body might be torched, then cut away. The fear lived on

in their practiced bop, their slouching denim, their big

T-shirts, the calculated angle of their baseball caps, a cata­

log of behaviors and garments enlisted to inspire the belief

that these boys were in firm possession of everything they
desired.

I saw it in their customs of war. I was no older than five,

sitting out on the front steps of my home on Woodbrook

Avenue, watching two shirtless boys circle each other close

and buck shoulders. From then on, I knew that there was

a ritual to a street fight, bylaws and codes that, in their very

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME 15

need, attested to all the vulnerability of the black teenage

bodies.
I heard the fear in the first music I ever knew, the music

that pumped from boom boxes full of grand boast and

bluster. The boys who stood out on Garrison and Liberty

up on Park Heights loved this music because it told them,

against all evidence and odds, that they were masters of

their own lives, their own streets, and their own bodies. I

saw it in the girls, in their loud laughter, in their gilded

bamboo earrings that announced their names thrice over.

And I saw it in their brutal language and hard gaze, how

they would cut you with their eyes and destroy you with

their words for the sin of playing too much. “Keep my

name out your mouth;’ they would say. I would watch

them after school, how they squared off like boxers, vas­

elined up, earrings off, Reeboks on, and leaped at each

other.
I felt the fear in the visits to my Nana’s home in Phila­

delphia. You never knew her. I barely knew her, but what

I remember is her hard manner, her rough voice. And I

knew that my father’s father was dead and that my uncle

Oscar was dead and that my uncle David was dead and

that each of these instances was unnatural. And I saw it in

my own father, who loves you, who counsels you, who

slipped me money to care for you. My father was so very

afraid. I felt it in the sting of his black leather belt, which

he applied with more anxiety than anger, my father who

beat me as if someo~e might steal me away, because that is

16 TA-NEHISI COATES

exactly what was happening all around us. Everyone had

lost a child, somehow, to the streets, to jail, to drugs, to

guns. It was said that these lost girls were sweet as honey

and would not hurt a fly. It was said that these lost boys had

just received a GED and had begun to turn their lives

around. And now they were gone, and their legacy was a
great fear.

Have they told you this story?When your grandmother

was sixteen years old a young man knocked on her door.

The young man was your Nana Jo’s boyfriend. No one

else was home. Ma allowed this young man to sit and wait

until your Nana Jo returned. But your great-grandmother

got there first. She asked the young man to leave. Then

she beat your grandmother terrifically, one last time, so

that she might remember how easily she could lose her

body. Ma never forgot. I remember her clutching my small

hand tightly as we crossed the street. She would tell me

that ifl ever let go and were killed by an onrushing car, she

would beat me back to life. When I was six, Ma and Dad

took me to a local park. I slipped from their gaze and

found a playground. Your grandparents spent anxious

minutes looking for _me. When they found me, Dad did

what every parent I knew would have done–he reached

for his belt. I remember watching him in a kind of daze,
awed at the distance between punishment and offense.

Later, I would hear it in Dad’s voice–“Either I can beat

him, or the police:’ Maybe that saved me. Maybe it didn’t.
All I know is, the violence rose from the fear like smoke

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME 17

from a fire, and I cannot say whether that violence, even

administered in fear and love, sounded the alarm or choked

us at the exit. What I know is that fathers who slammed

their teenage boys for sass would then release them to

streets where their boys employed, and were subject to, the

same justice. And I knew mothers who belted their girls,

but the belt could not save these girls from drug dealers

twice their age. We, the children, employed our darkest

humor to cope. We stood in the alley where we shot bas­

ketballs through hollowed crates and cracked jokes on the

boy whose mother wore him out with a beating in front

of his entire fifth-grade class. We sat on the number five

bus, headed downtown, laughing at some girl whose

mother was known to reach for anything–cable wires,

extension cords, pots, pans. We were laughing, but I know

that we were afraid of those who loved us most. Our par­

ents resorted to the lash the way flagellants in the plague

years resorted to the scourge.

To be black in the Baltimore of my youth was to be

naked before the elements of the world, before all the

guns, fists, knives, crack, rape, and disease. The nakedness

is not an error, nor pathology. The nakedness is the cor­

rect and intended result of policy, the predictable upshot

of people forced for centuries to live under fear. The law

did not protect us. And now, in your time, the law has be­

come an excuse for stopping and frisking you, which is to

say, for furthering the assault on your body. But a society

that protects some people through a safety net of schools,

18 TA-NEHISI COATES

government-backed home loans, and ancestral wealth but

can only protect you with the club of criminal justice has

either failed at enforcing its good intentions or has suc­

ceeded at something much darker. However you call it,

the result was our infirmity before the criminal forces of

the world. It does not matter if the agent of those forces is

white or black-what matters is our condition, what mat­

ters is the system that makes your body breakable.

The revelation of these forces, a series of great changes,

has unfolded over the course of my life. The changes are

still unfolding and will likely continue until I die. I was

eleven years old, standing out in the parking lot in front of

the 7 -Eleven, watching a crew of older boys standing near

the street. They yelled and gestured at … who? … another

boy, young, like me, who stood there, almost smiling,

gamely throwing up his hands. He had already learned the

lesson he would teach me that day: that his body was in

constant jeopardy. Who knows what brought him to that

knowledge? The projects, a drunken stepfather, an older

brother concussed by police, a cousin pinned in the city

jail. That he was outnumbered did not matter because the

whole world had outnumbered him long ago, and what do

numbers matter? This was a war for the possession of his

body and that would be the war of his whole life.

I stood there for some seconds, marveling at the older

boys’ beautiful sense of fashion. They all wore ski jackets,

the kind which, in my day, mothers put on layaway in Sep-

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME 19

tember, then piled up overtime hours so as to have the

thing wrapped and ready for Christmas. I focused in on a

light-skinned boy with a long head and small eyes. He was

scowling at another boy, who was standing close to me. It

was just before three in the afternoon. I was in sixth grade.

School had just let out, and it was not yet the fighting

weather of early spring. What was the exact problem here?

Who could know?

The boy with the small eyes reached into his ski jacket

and ptilled out a gun. I recall it in the slowest motion, as

though in a dream. There the boy stood, with the gun

brandished, which he slowly untucked, tucked, then un­

tucked once more, and in his small eyes I saw a surging

rage that could, in an instant, erase my body. That was

1986. That year I felt myself to be drowning in the news

reports of murder. I was aware that these murders very

often did not land upon the intended targets but fell upon

great-aunts, PTA mothers, overtime uncles, and joyful

children-fell upon them random and relentless, like great

sheets of rain. I knew this in theory but could not under­

stand it as fact until the boy with the small eyes stood

across from me holding my entire body in his small hands.

The boy did not shoot. His friends ptilled him back. He

did not need to shoot. He had affirmed my place in the

order of things. He had let it be known how easily I could

be selected. I took the subway home that day, processing

the episode all alone. I did not tell my parents. I did not tell

20 TA-NEHISI COATES

my teachers, and if! told my friends I would have done so

with all the excitement needed to obscure the fear that

came over me in that moment.

I remember being amazed that death could so easily rise

up from the nothing of a boyish afternoon, billow up like

fog. I knew that West Baltimore, where I lived; that the

north side of Philadelphia, where my cousins lived; that

the South Side of Chicago, where friends of my father

lived, comprised a world apart. Somewhere out there be­

yond the firmament, past the asteroid belt, there were

other worlds where children did not regularly fear for

their bodies. I knew this because there was a large televi­

sion resting in my living room. In the evenings I would sit

before this television bearing witness to the dispatches

from this other world. There were little white boys with

complete collections of football cards, and their only want

was a popular girlfriend and their only worry was poison

oak. That other world was suburban and endless, organized

around pot roasts, blueberry pies, fireworks, ice cream sun­

daes, immaculate bathrooms, and small toy trucks that

were loosed in wooded backyards with streams and glens.

Comparing these dispatches with the facts of my native

world, I came to understand that my country was a galaxy,

and this galaxy stretched from the pandemonium of West

Baltimore to the happy hunting grounds of Mr. Belvedere. I

obsessed over the distance between that other sector of

space and my own. I knew that my portion of the Ameri­

can galaxy, where bodies were enslaved by a tenacious

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME 21

gravity, was black and that the other, liberated portion was

not. I knew that some inscrutable energy preserved the

breach. I felt, but did not yet understand, the relation be­

tween that other world and me. And I felt in this a cosmic

injustice, a profound cruelty, which infused an abiding, ir­

repressible desire to unshackle my body and achieve the

velocity of escape.

Do you ever feel that same need? Your life is so very

different from my own. The grandness of the world, the

real world, the whole world, is a known thing for you.

And you have no need of dispatches because you have

seen so much of the American galaxy and its inhabitants­

their homes, their hobbies-up close. I don’t know what it

means to grow up with a black president, social networks,

omnipresent media, and black women everywhere in their

natural hair. What I know is that when they loosed the

killer of Michael Brown, you said, “I’ve got to go.” And

that cut me because, for all our differing worlds, at your

age my feeling was exactly the same. And I recall that even

then I had not yet begun to imagine the perils that tangle

us. You still believe the injustice was Michael Brown. You

have not yet grappled with your own myths and narratives

and discovered the plunder everywhere around us.

Before I could discover, before I could escape, I had to

survive, and this could only mean a clash with the streets,

by which I mean not just physical blocks, nor simply the

people packed into them, but the array of lethal puzzles

and strange perils that seem to rise up from the asphalt it-

22 TA-NEHISI COATES

self. The streets transform every ordinary day into a series

of trick questions, and every incorrect answer risks a beat­
down, a shooting, or a pregnancy. No one survives un­

scathed. And yet the heat that springs from the constant

danger, from a lifestyle of near-death experience, is thrill­

ing. This is what the rappers mean when they pronounce

themselves addicted to “the streets” or in love with “the
game:• I imagine they feel something akin to parachutists,

rock climbers, BASE jumpers, and others who choose to

live on the edge. Of course we chose nothing. And I have

never believed the brothers who claim to “run,” much less

“own,” the city. We did not design the streets. We do not

fund them. We do not preserve them. But I was there,

nevertheless, charged like all the others with the protec­

tion of my body.

The crews, the young men who’d transmuted their fear

into rage, were the greatest danger. The crews walked the

blocks of their neighborhood, loud and rude, because it

was only through their loud rudeness that they might feel

any sense of security and power. They would break your

jaw, stomp your face, and shoot you down to feel that

power, to revel in the might of their own bodies. And their

wild reveling, their astonishing acts made their names ring

out. Reps were made, …