Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Obama Embedded Journalist, Wokes :) (Or, How Trump’s Big White Lifesaver Pulled Him Out From Drowning In Kool-Aid)

We Were Eight Years In Power: An American Tragedy.
Ta-Nehisi Coates.
One World Publishing.
367 pp. $28.

Why waste time knocking another writer’s immensely successful hustle when the target publicly decides to do it (somewhat) to himself? Ta-Nehisi Coates comes thisclose to admitting that he went a little bit Hollywood because Barack Obama’s 2018 campaign and presidency allowed the Howard University dropout to travel the Horatio Alger-Don King trail “from the unemployment office to the Oval Office.” One of his articles collected here, a select compilation of his Obama work for The Atlantic magazine, actually ends with his moving-on-up like George Jefferson and Weezie; that the scene ends a piece arguing that Malcolm X’s legacy lived in President Obama—the president who, in the beginning,  apologized to a white police officer who arrested Harvard Africana Studies professor Henry Louis Gates for breaking into his own house, and, at the end, refused to pardon Marcus Garvey—makes it, in retrospect,  even more puzzling and saddening. (Coates now admits his optimistic idea was “strained.” Really? You don’t say. :)) The honest-as-I-can-be new introductory essays are vitally important to understand the writer’s formulations as he was “swept away” by the Obamas while, not coincidentally, Michelle’s and Barack’s presence on the national stage “opened up” an elite white journalistic market to New Negroes who supposedly had new, innovative things to say. However, what makes this book and the superbly talented writer more than redeemable are its/his final two angry essays, “My President Was Black” and the epilogue, “The First White President.” Coates’ 2016 post-election night analysis of America contains immense socio-historical clarity. The pieces shake up the writer and the reader, allowing all to see the abandonment of Black America’s eight-year experiment with being adjective-less and to introduce in detail the insidious power of whiteness. (Taken together, the Trump-election duo pack a much better punch than his too-much-heralded 2015 single-essay work, “Between the World and Me.”) With The Donald now in charge whether people use his name or not, Coates’ years of literary sharecropping as forgotten as Friendster, and his white readers now fully understanding that they have never been, and are not now, innocent, the book’s end marks the beginning of a golden era of his writing.

 

 

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My Reaction to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “My President Was Black” In January/February 2017 Issue Of The Atlantic

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Ta-Nehisi Coates does an outstanding job here as a post-Black Nationalist foil to President Obama, explaining the latter’s lifelong attempt to become Captain America.  He really does a good job undressing the first Black President as a Black man who, because he grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia and completely loved and trusted his white family, he had the attitude/worldview that allowed White America to, in turn, completely trust him with the keys. (Coates correctly points out that Obama was in younger days an activist, not a protester; that says a lot when you think about it.) In many ways, I think that this is Coates’ breakthrough article, because now he can stop being an embedded journalist to Black Star Power. So enough of this I’m-trying-to-figure-all-this-stuff-out-without-offending-you-good-white-intellectuals role he has played to his loving white audience. Clearly, he has enough power, savings and fame by now. 🙂 Under President Trump’s naked, White Nationalist oppression, I hope Coates, a very talented writer who has played the game well, will now directly say what he really feels about white Americans, and White America, to a white readership who, interestingly enough, now trusts him enough that they will be ready to hear him. (I hope the lesson that will not be learned from all this is that white trust is essential for Black success and power, but that ship has probably already sale-d.) Coates will hopefully now tell truths undiluted by “dreams” (his or anyone else’s), or “Dreamers,” his annoyingly euphemistic name for whites in “Between The World and Me,” his award-winning update of James Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time.”  Well, that next time came about three weeks ago. It’s woke-ness for everybody. Time to share the pain. Time to stop dancing what my friend, the writer Ericka Blount Danois, calls “the soft shoe.” Or, as Baldwin himself says in “Blues For Mr. Charlie,” his play inspired by the lynching of Emmett Till:

Richard: You still determined to break your neck.

Juanita: Well, it’s a neck-breaking time. I wouldn’t like to appear to be above the battle.

 

An Attempted Deadline Poem About The Democratic National Convention: “Love’s Booty Call (a.k.a. Crazy In Love)”

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Love, American Style / Truuer than the red, white and bluuueee!
It’s the song from an old TV show
Back when Hill was shifting from Goldwater Girl
To ambitious law student seeking writ, not revolution

Last night, she moved into the place
Banishing the ’08 failed entitlement
Taking a village, indeed!
Barack, Michelle, some pork-chop preachers
(the latter Deese Negroes Cooning)
Black People To The Rescue!
Too bad Santa and Superman didn’t show
Wanted to hear their testimonials about puppies, truth and justice
If balloons, CVs, Alicia Keys and Katy Perry produced trust, Hill has won
But I would count the change she makes
before walking out the store

Hill and Kaine were proud of how
white-bred boring they are
And how they are, like, real grownups
(“A man you can bait with a Tweet is not a man you can trust with nuclear weapons”)
But we can trust you to bomb from above
Because that’s what America has become
Available in Marvin and Tammi flavors
As Blacks dance with Joe Biden down the “Soul Train” line
Arguing over who gets to play Crockett and who’s stuck with Tubbs

*******

Hill: “America is great because America is good”
Yeah, there it is, white supremacy slipped in with the beer
But why were so many Black people cheering?
Did they know that while they were integrating
The Sister Prosecutor of the cops who killed Freddie Gray
Threw up her hands because of a rigged system?
Or did their inclusion into the Party turn their cheers to Nyquil?

Wow, even Trayvon’s and the other moms are riding the donkey
Black folks have had their turn at the Prez bat
And now want their old, good jobs back
Leaving the Party with the Black cat far behind in history
As caution or model

Blacks love Dems, treasure their booty call status
Knowing the platform is a fake prenup
But showing it off
Like a gold-plated engagement ring

Not like those crazy Bernie people
Dumb to democracy
Not accepting just half of freedom
Cheering and booing at will
Trying to not choke at the Clinton’s historic s/triangulation
SmallPOX News (*cough* devils *cough*)
Produced their Hill Hate Card in an interesting way:
Spent a lot of airtime on the Burned Out
Before they split the scene
(With their YUGE, inflatable doobie!)
Searching for an abstract freedom
That freezes imperialism

News Flash: The RNC will never nominate
Kermit The Frog or the ghost of Fred Rogers
Maybe that thrown-away vote
Will one day hit the right person between the eyes

Makes me want to
Cross at the Green not in-between
This fall
Or just mark “X”

*******

The conflict is clear
Amiri Baraka, critiquing Jesse’s ’88 DNC’s crossover joint, said it best:
“Both the slave and the slavemaster can’t be right”
But this is what Obama has wrought
Confusion disguised as progress
The Obamas are the fulfillment of so many dreams
I just don’t know whose

Hill’s great advantage?
That maddening Trumpet wailing on the other side
Archie Bunker sitting on a pile of cash
Dialing the Russians on his iPhone
America Ferrera had it right: “He’s making America hate again”
The DNC’s mentally colonized will be put to good use just this one time
To judge this unpopularity contest
Just leave Steve Harvey home this time

Daddy-O, aping Reagan
Applied select crayon to Norman Rockwell
Weaving the strands of American struggle
In ways that would make Howie Zinn’s ghost weep
(MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow: Dems convention had “eaten the Republican Party whole”)
But a clear thought did emerge:
This is, Daddy-O explained, a “fundamental choice of who we are as a people”
(As usual, he meant American, not Black)

So the POTUS-to-POTUS pass has been made
And Black people were included in every respect and aspect
Which makes empire acceptable
Because when Black people love
It’s for real

Boomerang-ing while chomping Peanuts
Hmm: Lucy never gets Schroeder, Sally never nabs Linus,
Charlie Brown ducks the Little Red-Haired Girl
And Linus never catches up with Miss Othmar
Snoopy, wearing Panther shades, is the only one who’s free
He kicks on the door to demand his reparations
And after getting what he wants
Leaves the gang to their dysfunction

I hope Blacks ultimately remember
That unrequited love is freer than a dollar-store midnight raid
‘Cause it’s just pain smoothed over by denial
A love hostage with an unpaid ransom
It’s a perversion of Carter G.
Going in the FRONT door
But only to babysit, and to be thanked
With only $10 and a kiss on the forehead.