In 1895, two decades after his state moved from the egalitarian innovations of Reconstruction to an oppressive ‘Redemption”, South Carolina congressman Thomas Miller appealed to the state’s constitutional convention: we were eight years in power.
We Were Eight Years
in Power isn’t a beach read. Ta-Nehisi Coates’ previous one
had glimpses of light between all the rubble, but no such thing this time around. This time Coates has his bludgeon ready, and weighed it down with centuries of pain, abuse and inequality.
Because that’s what this book is, a collection of essays and articles in which is shown – again and again – how black people were mistreated by American authorities ever since they set foot on American soil. No, Obama didn’t create a post-racism society; there’s too many centuries of white supremacy and the ignoring of white guilt before his time. And well, just look at who’s in the White House right now.
It’s the kind of history lesson you probably don’t get in school, but if you want to join in on the conversation, you should be reading along.
We Were Eight Years in Power, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Penguin Random House 2017
Son, last Sunday the host of a popular news show asked me what it meant to lose my body.
Required reading, indeed.
Coates gives the reader a view of his world, one he shares with a lot of black Americans. It’s a letter to his son, it’s a reality check for everyone outside this world.
A world in which your body isn’t your own. In which there is no safety from society, authority, their own surroundings. In which police violence isn’t just two years old and a news item, but a reality you grow up in.
It’s plenty of ugly truths, but Coates’ love for his son, his family and his people (the people the rest of society only wants to use, not accept) prevents this letter turning into a wall of tears.
We have to know this angle, because ignorance supports a status quo that doesn’t include every human being.
Between The World And Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Spiegel & Grau 2015