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We were eight years in power : an American…
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We were eight years in power : an American tragedy (edizione 2017)

di Ta-Nehisi Coates

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1,1253313,068 (4.42)115
A portrait of the historic Barack Obama era features essays originally published in "The Atlantic," including "Fear of a Black President" and "The Case for Reparations," as well as new essays revisiting each year of the Obama administration.""We were eight years in power" was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. In this sweeping collection of new and selected essays, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America's "first white president." But the story of these present-day eight years is not just about presidential politics. This book also examines the new voices, ideas, and movements for justice that emerged over this period--and the effects of the persistent shadow of our nation's old and unreconciled history. Coates powerfully examines the events of the Obama era from his intimate and revealing perspective--the point of view of a young writer who begins the journey in an unemployment office in Harlem and ends it in the Oval Office, interviewing a president. We Were Eight Years in Power features Coates's iconic essays first published in The Atlantic, including "Fear of a Black President," "The Case for Reparations," and "The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration," along with eight fresh essays that revisit each year of the Obama administration through Coates's own experiences, observations, and intellectual development, capped by a bracingly original assessment of the election that fully illuminated the tragedy of the Obama era."--Dust jacket.… (altro)
Utente:Buntkc
Titolo:We were eight years in power : an American tragedy
Autori:Ta-Nehisi Coates
Info:New York : One World, [2017]
Collezioni:La tua biblioteca
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We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy di Ta-Nehisi Coates

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There's a specific word that I notice Coates uses a lot and keeps surfacing throughout the book: plunder. The plunder that Coates details in these essays are multifold. The plunder of black wealth, life, spirit, time, family, all of which is stolen for the benefit of white supremacy. The most powerful essays for me, especially, were "The Case for Reparations," "The Black Family in The Age of Mass Incarceration" and "The First White President". I found these the best, in part, because he truly laid out in a sprawling essay form, the deep systemic nature of anti-blackness in the US, how if the US were a body, anti-blackness ran within it like blood. Strikingly, he says that even democracy itself was the product of slavery:

“It was slavery that allowed American democracy to exist in the first place. It was slavery that gifted much of the South with a working-class that lived outside of all protections and could be driven, beaten, and traded into generational perpetuity. Profits pulled from these workers, repression of the normal angst of labor, and the ability to employ this labor on abundant land stolen from Native Americans formed a foundation for democratic equality among a people who came to see skin color and hair textures as defining features.”

Coates' writing is both beautiful and deeply investigative. At one point he says that he wants to write like James Baldwin, to join the long line of "dream breakers", the writers in the African-American tradition who question the American dream fueled by the systemic plunder of black lives.

I don't think his writing is as soulful as Baldwin's but it's arresting in its own way. Coates writing is intensively thorough, with his investigative eye bringing our attention to the details as much as the breadth of the state machinery. The stats & research he provides is disarming. Things like racist housing practices, how 99.9% of clients of a lawyer handling lead poisoning cases were black, how a black person with a college degree has the same chance of securing a job as a white person with a criminal record.

At the same time, he writes with heartbreaking beauty, almost like a song, to remind us of the very real humanity & lives that have suffered under the weight of racism & white supremacy. Reading the account of a slave who had to see his wife & child sold away made me put aside the book & wipe away tears. Part of the power of his essays are when he gets to interact & interview people & relay their words. In his essay about mass incarceration, he relays the words of a former convict I found so striking: "I've never talked to a doctor until he be sewing me up after I got shot. I never talked with a lawyer until he was sending me to prison. I never talked with a judge until he convicted me"

His analyses were sharp & elegant in a way that swerves from the complicated intellectualising people may shore up in defence of racism. Take for example when he says: “Every Trump voter is certainly not a white supremacist, just as every white person in the Jim Crow South was not a white supremacist. But every Trump voter felt it was acceptable to hand the fate of the country over to one.”

Many times reading this, I remember what Zadie Smith said in a talk when she thinks about what African-Americans have gone through. She had mentioned how she read about the suffering African-Americans had been subjected to, about slaves being roasted alive, & when she considers this history,
she finds African-Americans to be living today with immense grace. "How are the streets not on fire?," she had said. I had the same thought. ( )
1 vota verkur | Jan 8, 2021 |
I hadn't known what to expect when I picked this one up; I just knew I wanted to read Coates's next book. To say that I liked it is problematic, because I don't like that the essays in it had cause to be written or collected. But I did like it. The book is composed of eight essays -- one per year of Obama's presidency written during that period -- and a substantial introduction to each, plus an epilogue. It's neat to see Coates develop as a writer over that time. His material is important and his prose powerful. This one's a must-read if you're interested in or affected by problems of race in America. ( )
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
Yes, these pieces have all been published before. Yes, if you read The Atlantic (or twitter) very little here is new except Ta-Nehisi Coates's introductions to each essay. And yet the overall effect of recognizing that America has both built racism into its foundation and in fact nothing may be more American than calling it to account for that is an idea that has changed me fundamentally. Sadly, tragically but for the better. I owe this book and Ta-Nehisi Coates a boundless doubt of gratitude for that wisdom. ( )
  Smokler | Jan 3, 2021 |
I thoroughly enjoyed this.
I love the way Coates writes and I think he really verbalizes experiences/stories/thoughts/emotions so beautifully and accurately.
Reading or rather listening to this yesterday reminded me of just how valid Dr West's critique of Coates can be. ( )
  LoisSusan | Dec 10, 2020 |
This is a powerful and timely book. The last three essays are the best and most worth reading. "The First White President" is crucial in its grounding of Trump's election in racism and white supremacy. ( )
  DrFuriosa | Dec 4, 2020 |
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» Aggiungi altri autori (2 potenziali)

Nome dell'autoreRuoloTipo di autoreOpera?Stato
Ta-Nehisi Coatesautore primariotutte le edizionicalcolato
Bachman, Barbara M.Designerautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
Grandgenett, BenProgetto della copertinaautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
Mollica, GregProgetto della copertinaautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
Sykora, ConnyTraduttoreautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
Zach, MatthewImmagine di copertinaautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
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A portrait of the historic Barack Obama era features essays originally published in "The Atlantic," including "Fear of a Black President" and "The Case for Reparations," as well as new essays revisiting each year of the Obama administration.""We were eight years in power" was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. In this sweeping collection of new and selected essays, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America's "first white president." But the story of these present-day eight years is not just about presidential politics. This book also examines the new voices, ideas, and movements for justice that emerged over this period--and the effects of the persistent shadow of our nation's old and unreconciled history. Coates powerfully examines the events of the Obama era from his intimate and revealing perspective--the point of view of a young writer who begins the journey in an unemployment office in Harlem and ends it in the Oval Office, interviewing a president. We Were Eight Years in Power features Coates's iconic essays first published in The Atlantic, including "Fear of a Black President," "The Case for Reparations," and "The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration," along with eight fresh essays that revisit each year of the Obama administration through Coates's own experiences, observations, and intellectual development, capped by a bracingly original assessment of the election that fully illuminated the tragedy of the Obama era."--Dust jacket.

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