Ta-Nehisi Coates (/ / TAH-nə-HAH-see KOHTS; born 1975, Baltimore, Maryland) is a senior editor for The Atlantic and blogs on its website. Coates has worked for The Village Voice, Washington City Paper, and Time. He has contributed to The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The Washington Monthly, O, and other publications. In 2008 he published a memoir, The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood.
Coates was raised in a working-class family in Baltimore, Maryland. His father, William Paul Coates, was a Vietnam veteran and former Black Panther. His mother, Cheryl, was the breadwinner in the family and his father was a stay-at-home dad during Ta-Nehisi's childhood. Ta-Nehisi's father had seven children (William, Jr., Jonathan, Damani, Kristance, Menelik, and Ta-Nehisi). Ta-Nehisi is an Egyptian name for ancient Nubia.
The Beautiful Struggle
The Beautiful Struggle is Coates's first and only published book to date, an autobiography of his coming of age in West Baltimore. Chronicling his middle and high school years, it narrates his experiences both with his father's consciousness – his father's awareness of himself as a part of history, and his awareness of the strength and oppression of black people, born from his days in the Black Panthers – and the harsh, violent realities of life on the streets. Despite obvious intelligence, Coates remains unresponsive both to traditional schooling and his father's consciousness; however, as he matures he comes into his own consciousness – for him, a melange of Black Power texts and hip-hop beats. Armed with his knowledge of contemporaneous rap along with budding literary talent, he barely avoids failure; however, he eventually ends up at "Mecca," also known as Howard University. The book ends there, as Coates turns away from the rapidly changing world of hip-hop and the violence that governed his youth.
Key themes in this memoir include finding alternatives to coming-of-age narratives and achieving a non-violent masculinity. Coates turns to hip-hop during its Golden Age for the hyper-masculinity with which it was so clearly associated. Public Enemy, for example, a hip-hop group featured in the text, presented a clear image of masculine strength that was ultimately based on the performance of their poetry, rather than gang violence. The Afrocentricity of his school was also a key alternative because it created a rites-of-passage system that wasn't life-threatening like the coming-of-age narrative in the gangs. With the Afrocentric model, Coates can achieve manhood without needing to participate in the gang violence of his other school (the streets). The value of the approach, according to Coates, became apparent in spring 2013 when he and a group of associates were confronted by another group of aggressive inebriated individuals in Chicago looking to engage in a physical altercation. Coates revealed that--against his instinctual judgment--he and his associates resisted the urge to brawl with their new-found adversaries and defused the confrontation by simply walking away. 
Writing and teaching
Coates is a senior editor at The Atlantic, for which he writes feature articles beside maintaining a blog. Topics covered by the blog include politics, history, race, culture as well as sports, and music. His writing on race have been especially praised, and have won his blog a place on the Best Blogs of 2011 list by TIME Magazine. and the the 2012 Hillman Prize for Opinion & Analysis Journalism from The Sidney Hillman Foundation. Coates' blog has also been praised for its engaging comments section, which Coates curates and moderates heavily so that, "the jerks are invited to leave [and] the grown-ups to stay and chime in".
Coates is the 2012-13 MLK visiting professor for writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a guest columnist for the New York Times. He has also written for The Village Voice, Washington City Paper, Time, The Washington Post, the Washington Monthly and O magazine.
- Fresh Air, 2009 Feb 19 The name derives from the Egyptian name of Nubia, nḥsy, for which the vowels are unknown.
- Smith, Jeremy Adam. The Daddy Shift: How Stay-at-Home Dads, Breadwinning Moms, and Shared Parenting are Transforming the American Family. Boston: Beacon Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-8070-2120-0, p. 105.
- http://www2.citypaper.com/news/story.asp?id=15830 Manning Up The Coates Family's Beautiful Struggle in Word and Deed Felicia Pride June 6, 2008
- Felicia Pride (2007-04-06). "Manning Up: The Coates Family's Beautiful Struggle in Word and Deed". Baltimore City Paper.
- "The guest list". Vibe, November 2004.
- Jordan, Michael Smith (5 March 2013). "Fear of the Black Pundit". The Observer. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
- "Full List - The Best Blogs of 2011". Time Magazine
- "2012 Hillman Prize for Opinion & Analysis Journalism: Ta-Nehisi Coates". Sidney Hillman Foundation. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
- Garfield, Bob (30 December 2011). "How to create an engaging comments section". On the media. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
- Azi, Paybarah (22 October 2010). "NPR's guide to blogging: act like Andrew Sullivan, Ben Smith, Ta-Nehisi Coates". WNYC. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
- Matias, J. Nathan (22 October 2012). "The beauty and terror of commenting communities: Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Media Lab". MIT Center for Civic Media. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
- "Ta-Nehisi Coates is 2012-2013 MLK Visiting Scholar". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
- His Atlantic blog
- Ta-Nehisi Coates at Random House
- Video conversations with Coates on Bloggingheads.tv
- Interview with Terry Gross on NPR's radio show Fresh Air