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The Toxic Worldview of Ta-Nehisi Coates


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The Toxic Worldview of Ta-Nehisi Coates



July 22, 2015

Moses gave us the Ten Commandments. Paul gave us the epistles. And Ta-Nehisi gave us, Between the World and Me.


The new book by Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, in the form of a letter to his son, has been greeted with a rapturous reception that brooks no dissent.


What everyone says about the literary power of Between the World and Me is correct. It is, in part, the story of the creation of a writer, and one with undeniably formidable gifts. But if you refuse to simply stare at the book in wonder as one who admires Michelangelo’s David and subject it to even minimal critical scrutiny, you will realize that it is profoundly silly at times, and morally blinkered throughout. It is a masterly little memoir wrapped in a toxic little Philippic.


Between the World and Me evokes the terror of the upbringing Coates had in West Baltimore in the 1980s with a sickening immediacy. His father beat him. Other kids were a constant physical, perhaps even mortal, threat. Coates lived in perpetual fear — although largely of other black people.



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