Intriguing (if too short) profile in the Washington Post today:
… For Ta-Nehisi Coates, “here” is bigger than a star turn on the stage of the Sixth and I Synagogue, where hundreds lined up down the block to hear him talk last week about his blockbuster Atlantic cover story making the case for slave reparations. No, here is a place of prominence in the stream of American thought, a perch that positions him as an ascendant public intellectual with a voice that stands out in the white noise of a wired and word-flooded era, an object of praise and a target.
At 38, Coates has already been a trenchant observer of America’s fraught relationship with race, both in his well-read Atlantic blog and in the printed magazine. But his exploration of reparations in this month’s Atlantic — a 16,000-word report that calls for a national “airing of family secrets, a settling with old ghosts” — has supercharged his profile. The piece, titled “The Case for Reparations,” intricately and provocatively traces the history of racism in the United States from slavery to recent examples of housing discrimination…
Coates’s accounting of his personal costs begins with the menace of West Baltimore, a place where young black men — such as himself — were ever at risk. His father, Paul Coates, is a former Black Panther who chose a first name for him inspired by the ancient Egyptian word for Nubia. Its non-intuitive pronunciation—Ta-nuh-ha-see — and its unfamiliar spelling are the source of frequent errors. Coates delights in needling critics who misspell his name….
…. In the late 1970s, his father founded a small publishing house that he still runs, Black Classic Press. It specializes in republishing works of black authors that have gone out of print. “There were books everywhere,” Coates says. “There were books in our basement; there were books out in our garage. There were black books in our living room, black books in our bedroom, black books in the kitchen, black books. It was everywhere around me. . . . I was bathed in it. I couldn’t escape it.”…
What’s on the agenda for the day?