Ta-Nehisi Coates: Fear of a Black President

U.S. President Barack Obama. (Google Images)

In a piece for The Atlantic entitled, “Fear of a Black President,” Ta-Nehisis Coates waxes poetic about the historical fear and loathing of blacks in America that makes it necessary for President Obama to be “twice as good but half as black,” in order to have some semblance of acceptance in this society. He critiques President Obama’s inability to discuss race although race and racism are impacting many events in society, including Hurricane Katrina, Trayvon Martin and his presidency. Coates’ analysis of President Obama and race is thoughtful, provocative and quite brilliant. Check out an excerpt from Coates’ piece below:

“Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others. Black America ever lives under that skeptical eye. Hence the old admonishments to be “twice as good.” Hence the need for a special “talk” administered to black boys about how to be extra careful when relating to the police. And hence Barack Obama’s insisting that there was no racial component to Katrina’s effects; that name-calling among children somehow has the same import as one of the oldest guiding principles of American policy—white supremacy. The election of an African American to our highest political office was alleged to demonstrate a triumph of integration. But when President Obama addressed the tragedy of Trayvon Martin, he demonstrated integration’s great limitation—that acceptance depends not just on being twice as good but on being half as black. And even then, full acceptance is still withheld. The larger effects of this withholding constrict Obama’s presidential potential in areas affected tangentially—or seemingly not at all—by race. Meanwhile, across the country, the community in which Obama is rooted sees this fraudulent equality, and quietly seethes.”

Read the piece in its entirety at The Atlantic.

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