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Read ‘Letter to My Son’ by Ta-Nahesi Coates

July 15, 2015

Bone chilling & one of the most powerful essays on slavery in US. ‘Letter to My son’, by Ta-Nahesi Coates, on history of slavery of Black people in America, and contrasting it with present day circumstances.

As stark as it gets, with no escape to any extra-natural beyond the visible bleakness:
‘Enslavement was not destined to end, and it is wrong to claim our present circumstance—no matter how improved—as the redemption for the lives of people who never asked for the posthumous, untouchable glory of dying for their children.’

and:
‘We spurned the holidays marketed by the people who wanted to be white. We would not stand for their anthems. We would not kneel before their God. “The meek shall inherit the earth” meant nothing to me. The meek were battered in West Baltimore, stomped out at Walbrook Junction, bashed up on Park Heights, and raped in the showers of the city jail’

Asking questions like:
‘it seemed that the month could not pass without a series of films dedicated to the glories of being beaten on camera. Why are they showing this to us? Why were only our heroes nonviolent?’

Observation, regarding caricature-heroes-who-fit-the-narrative:
‘Everyone of any import, from Jesus to George Washington, was white. This was why your grandparents banned Tarzan and the Lone Ranger and toys with white faces from the house. They were rebelling against the history books that spoke of black people only as sentimental “firsts”—first black four-star general, first black congressman, first black mayor—always presented in the bemused manner of a category of Trivial Pursuit.’

Self chastisement:
‘“Tolstoy is the Tolstoy of the Zulus,” wrote Wiley. “Unless you find a profit in fencing off universal properties of mankind into exclusive tribal ownership.”’

Growth at his alma mater:
‘My only Mecca was, is, and shall always be Howard University. This Mecca, My Mecca—The Mecca—is a machine, crafted to capture and concentrate the dark energy of all African peoples and inject it directly into the student body.’

Writing is almost poetic, in many passages:
‘But American reunion was built on a comfortable narrative that made enslavement into benevolence, white knights of body snatchers, and the mass slaughter of the war into a kind of sport in which one could conclude that both sides conducted their affairs with courage, honor, and élan. This lie of the Civil War is the lie of innocence, is the Dream. Historians conjured the Dream. Hollywood fortified the Dream’

Man, I think only Arundhati Roy, can write with as much shock and awe, amongst contemporary writers, IMHO.

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