Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of my favourite writers. This piece, “Fear of a Black President” was, quite simply, brilliant. Now you can read how the piece was written. It’s a fantastic opportunity for readers.
I knew, for a reason I couldn’t even name that I really wanted to talk to Shirley Sherrod. And I knew because what occurred to me very, very early was that everything that was wrong was symbolized in what happened to her. I knew that there was some great symbolism in what had happened and her being so totally screwed over. But I didn’t know how to connect. I couldn’t – the connections weren’t there. It was just a theory in my mind.
I don’t know if scientists ever work strictly from intuition – something is there and part of it is trying to get the math and prove that it is there. That’s sort of how it was: You know, I think this is connected, I’m not exactly sure how. And I went there, and then there it was.
Also, there is some wonderful stuff towards the end of this interview about coping with the long, long road to change.
I was on the radio. Somebody was saying yesterday on the radio, “Well, you know, Jackie Robinson did this.” And I told him, “You got to remember Jackie Robinson died young. Don’t ever forget that, every time you say that. Remember that.” You know, it wasn’t just a matter of being better. This actually costs. It costs. Any black person who has ever worked in any sort of corporate job can tell you about coming home and needing to have an extra drink, about the anger they feel…
.. I didn’t really get to stress this enough in the piece but progress is never a straight line…
..I like that tension and I like, you know, sort of living there. You don’t have to believe that we would be better off if Barack Obama had never been elected to outline the sacrifices in the situation; historians do that all the time. And I think you can do it without the kind of, “on the other hand-ism” that journalists often sort of resort to. I don’t think anybody would have thought if Hillary Clinton won, that that would be the end of sexism. I don’t think there would be any sort of discussion like that. But the election of Barack Obama was just so unexpected; it became weighted with all these other things.
And the other thing is – this is a great picture, I guess (a few) days ago. Barack Obama goes into this pizzeria and the guy bear-hugs him and picks him up. And the guy – I guess he is a Republican. He voted for Obama and he is going to vote for him again this year. And, like, you have to balance that. You know, this white guy is doing that and clearly does not care. You know what I mean? Like five different things that seem to be contradictory can be true at the same time.