Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Ta-Nehisi Coates
Coates delivering the keynote speech at the University of Virginia's 2015 Community Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration
Coates delivering the keynote speech
at the University of Virginia's
2015 Community MLK Celebration
Born Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates
(1975-09-30) September 30, 1975 (age 42)
Baltimore, Maryland, US
Education Howard University
Occupation Writer
Journalist
Home town Baltimore, Maryland
Spouse(s) Kenyatta Matthews
Children 1
Awards 2014 George Polk Award for commentary
2015 MacArthur Fellows Program
2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction
Website http://ta-nehisicoates.com

Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates[1] (/ˌtɑːnəˈhɑːsi ˈkts/ TAH-nə-HAH-see KOHTS;[2] born September 30, 1975)[3] is an American author, journalist, comic book writer, and educator. Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic, where he writes about cultural, social and political issues, particularly as they regard African-Americans.

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. His second book, Between the World and Me, was released in July 2015. It won the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction,[4][5] and was a nominee for the Phi Beta Kappa 2016 Book Awards.[6] He was the recipient of a "Genius Grant" from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 2015.[7] He is the writer of the Black Panther series for Marvel Comics drawn by Brian Stelfreeze.[8]

Early life[edit]

Coates was born in Baltimore, Maryland. His father, William Paul "Paul" Coates,[9] was a Vietnam War veteran, former Black Panther, publisher and librarian. His mother, Cheryl Lynn (Waters), was a teacher.[10][11] Coates' father founded and ran Black Classic Press, a publisher specializing in African-American titles. The Press grew out of a grassroots organization, the George Jackson Prison Movement (GJPM). Initially the GJPM operated a Black book store called the Black Book. Later Black Classic Press was established with a table-top printing press in the basement of the Coates family home.[2][12]

Coates' father had seven children, five boys and two girls, by four women. Coates' father's first wife had three children, Coates' mother had two boys, and the other two women each had a child. The children were raised together in a close-knit family; most lived with their mothers and at times lived with their father. Coates said he lived with his father the whole time.[2][13] In Coates' family, he said that the important overarching focus was on rearing children with values based on family, respect for elders and being a contribution to your community. This approach to family was common in the community where he grew up.[2] Coates grew up in the Mondawmin neighborhood of Baltimore[13] during the crack epidemic.[2]

Coates' interest in books was instilled at an early age when his mother, in response to bad behavior, would require him to write essays.[14] His father's work with the Black Classic Press was a huge influence: Coates has said he read many of the books his father published.[2]

Coates attended a number of Baltimore-area schools, including William H. Lemmel Middle School and Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, before graduating from Woodlawn High School.[15][16] Coates' father got a job as a librarian at Howard University, which enabled some of his children to attend with tuition remission.[13]

After high school, Coates attended Howard University. He left after five years to start a career in journalism. He is the only child in his family without a college degree.[13][17] In mid-2014, Coates attended an intensive program in French at Middlebury College to prepare for a writing fellowship in Paris, France.[18]

Career[edit]

Coates at the 2010 Brooklyn Book Festival

Journalism[edit]

Coates' first journalism job was as a reporter at The Washington City Paper; his editor was David Carr.[19]

From 2000 to 2007, Coates worked as a journalist at various publications, including Philadelphia Weekly, The Village Voice and Time.[19] His first article for The Atlantic, "This Is How We Lost to the White Man", about Bill Cosby and conservatism, started a new, more successful and stable phase of his career.[20] The article led to an appointment with a regular column for The Atlantic, a blog that was popular, influential, and had a high level of community engagement.[19]

Coates became a senior editor at The Atlantic, for which he wrote feature articles as well as maintaining his blog. Topics covered by the blog included politics, history, race, culture as well as sports, and music. His writings on race, such as his September 2012 The Atlantic cover piece "Fear of a Black President"[19][21][22] and his June 2014 feature "The Case for Reparations",[23][24] have been especially praised, and have won his blog a place on the Best Blogs of 2011 list by Time magazine[25] and the 2012 Hillman Prize for Opinion & Analysis Journalism from The Sidney Hillman Foundation.[19][26] 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."[27][28][29]

In discussing The Atlantic article on "The Case for Reparations", Coates said he had worked on it for almost two years. He had read Rutgers University professor Beryl Satter's book, Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America,[30] a history of redlining that included a discussion of the grassroots organization, the Contract Buyers League, of which Clyde Ross was one of the leaders.[31][32] The focus of the article was not so much on reparations for slavery, but was instead a focus on the institutional racism of housing discrimination.[31]

Coates has worked as a guest columnist for The New York Times, having turned down an offer from them to become a regular columnist.[19] He has also written for The Washington Post, the Washington Monthly and O magazine.[19]

Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic.[33]

Author[edit]

The Beautiful Struggle[edit]

In 2008, Coates published The Beautiful Struggle, a memoir about coming of age in West Baltimore and its effect on him.[34] In the book, he discusses the influence of his father, a former Black Panther;[35] the prevailing street crime of the era and its effects on his older brother;[36] his own troubled experience attending Baltimore-area schools;[37] and his eventual graduation and enrollment in Howard University.[15]

Between the World and Me[edit]

Coates' second book, Between the World and Me, was published in July 2015.[38] The title is drawn from a Richard Wright poem of the same name about a Black man discovering the site of a lynching and becoming incapacitated with fear, creating a barrier between himself and the world.[39][40] Coates said that one of the origins of the book was the death of a college friend, Prince Carmen Jones Jr., who was shot by police in a case of mistaken identity.[41][42] In an ongoing discussion about reparation, continuing the work of his June 2014 Atlantic article on reparations, Coates cited the bill sponsored by Representative John Conyers "H.R.40 – Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act"[43] that has been introduced every year[44][45] since 1989.[46] One of the themes of the book was about what physically affected African-American lives, e.g. their bodies being enslaved, violence that came from slavery, and various forms of institutional racism.[33][47] In a review for Politico magazine, conservative pundit Rich Lowry stated that while the book is lyrical and powerfully written, "For all his subtle plumbing of his own thoughts and feelings and his occasional invocations of the importance of the individuality of the person, Coates has to reduce people to categories and actors in a pantomime of racial plunder to support his worldview."[48] In a review for Slate, Jack Hamilton wrote that the book "is a love letter written in a moral emergency, one that Coates exposes with the precision of an autopsy and the force of an exorcism".[49]

Black Panther[edit]

Coates is the writer of the comic book series about the Black Panther for Marvel Comics drawn by Brian Stelfreeze.[8] Issue #1 went on sale April 6, 2016, and sold an estimated 253,259 physical copies, the best-selling comic for the month of April 2016.[50]

He also wrote a spinoff of Black Panther titled Black Panther and the Crew which ran for six issues before being cancelled.[51]

We Were Eight Years in Power[edit]

Coates' collection of previously published essays on the Obama Era, entitled We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy was announced by Random House, with a release date of October 3, 2017.[52] The title is a quote from 19th-century African-American congressman Thomas E. Miller of South Carolina, who asked why white Southerners hated African Americans after all the good they had done during the Reconstruction Era. Coates sees parallels with the Obama presidency.[53]

Teaching[edit]

Coates was the 2012–14 MLK visiting professor for writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[19][54]

He joined the City University of New York as its journalist-in-residence in late 2014.[55]

In 2017, Coates will join the faculty of New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute as a Distinguished Writer in Residence.[56]

Upcoming projects[edit]

Coates is currently working on several projects. These include America in the King Years which is a television project with David Simon, Taylor Branch, and James McBride[57][58] about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, based on one of the volumes of the books America in the King Years written by Taylor Branch, specifically At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965–1968.[59] The project will be produced by Oprah Winfrey and air on HBO.[60] He is working on a novel about an African American from Chicago who moves to Paris.[61]

Coates is also set to adapt Rachel Aviv's 2014 New Yorker article "Wrong Answer" into a full-length feature of the same title, starring Michael B. Jordan with direction by Ryan Coogler.[62]

Personal life[edit]

Ta-Nehisi in hieroglyphs
N17 N35
G21
H s Z4 T14 A2
[63]
t3-nḥsj

Coates' first name, Ta-Nehisi, is derived from an Ancient Egyptian language name for Nubia.[33] Nubia is a region along the Nile river located in present-day northern Sudan and southern Egypt.[13][64] As a child, Coates enjoyed comic books and Dungeons & Dragons.[13][65]

Coates lived in Paris for a residency. In 2009, he lived in Harlem[2] with his wife, Kenyatta Matthews, and son, Samori Maceo-Paul Coates.[66][67][68] His son is named after Samori Ture, a Mandé chief who fought French colonialism, after black Cuban revolutionary Antonio Maceo Grajales, and after Coates' father.[69] Coates met his wife when they were both students at Howard University.[69] He is an atheist and a feminist.[70][71][72]

With his family, Coates moved to Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn, New York, in 2001.[73] He purchased a brownstone in Prospect Lefferts Gardens in 2016.[74]

In 2016, he was made a member of Phi Beta Kappa at Oregon State University.[75]

Awards[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

Monographs
Comics
Selected articles
Multimedia

References[edit]

  1. ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi Paul (February 1, 2007). "Is Obama Black Enough?". Time. Retrieved May 12, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Gross, Terry (February 18, 2009). "Ta-Nehisi Coates' 'Unlikely Road to Manhood'". Fresh Air. NPR. Retrieved August 15, 2015. The name derives from the Egyptian name of Nubia, nḥsy, for which the vowels are unknown. 
  3. ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (July 2, 2015). "Brief But Spectacular: Ta-Nehisi Coates". PBS Newshour. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "2015 National Book Awards". National Book Foundation. Retrieved September 18, 2015. 
  5. ^ Alter, Alexandra (November 19, 2015). "Ta-Nehisi Coates Wins National Book Award". The New York Times. Retrieved November 19, 2015. 
  6. ^ 2016 Book Awards Short List, The Phi Beta Kappa Society.
  7. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (September 29, 2015). "MacArthur 'Genius Grant' Winners for 2015 Are Announced". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 2, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Gustines, George Gene (September 22, 2015). "Ta-Nehisi Coates to Write Black Panther Comic for Marvel". The New York Times. Retrieved September 22, 2015. 
  9. ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (November 23, 2013). "In Defense of a Loaded Word". The New York Times. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  10. ^ Bodenner, Chris (July 26, 2015). "Between the World and Me Book Club: Your Critical Thoughts". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  11. ^ Stated on Finding Your Roots, October 24, 2017
  12. ^ Smith, Jeremy Adam (2009). "Returning to Glory: Ta-Nehisi's Story". The Daddy Shift: How Stay-at-Home Dads, Breadwinning Moms, and Shared Parenting Are Transforming the American Family. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-807-09737-3. OCLC 436443245. Retrieved September 1, 2015. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f Pride, Felicia (June 4, 2008). "Manning Up: The Coates Family's Beautiful Struggle in Word and Deed". Baltimore City Paper. Archived from the original on June 6, 2008. Retrieved August 16, 2015. 
  14. ^ "One on 1 Profile: Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates Takes the Next Big Step in His Career". NY1. June 9, 2014. Retrieved June 12, 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Coates, Ta-Nehisi (2008). The Beautiful Struggle. Spiegel & Grau. ISBN 978-0-385-52036-2. OCLC 190784908. 
  16. ^ a b M. Owens, Donna (January 29, 2015). "Baltimore-born Ta-Nehisi Coates makes his case". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved August 16, 2015. 
  17. ^ "The guest list". Vibe: 50. November 2004. 
  18. ^ Jefferson, Tara (August 24, 2014). "Ta-Nehisi Coates Presents "Case For Reparations" At City Club of Cleveland". Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h Smith, Jordan Michael (March 5, 2013). "Fear of a Black Pundit". New York Observer. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
  20. ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (May 2008). "'This Is How We Lost to the White Man'". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  21. ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (August 22, 2012). "Fear of a Black President". The Atlantic. Retrieved December 19, 2013. 
  22. ^ Levenson, Tom (September 28, 2012). "Notable narrative: "Fear of a Black President", by Ta-Nehisi Coates". Nieman Storyboard. Retrieved December 19, 2013. 
  23. ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (June 2014). "The Case for Reparations". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 20, 2014. 
  24. ^ Roig-Franzia, Manuel (June 18, 2014). "With Atlantic article on reparations, Ta-Nehisi Coates sees payoff for years of struggle". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 20, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Full List – The Best Blogs of 2011". Time.
  26. ^ "2012 Hillman Prize for Opinion & Analysis Journalism: Ta-Nehisi Coates". Sidney Hillman Foundation. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  27. ^ Garfield, Bob (December 30, 2011). "How to create an engaging comments section". On the media. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  28. ^ Azi, Paybarah (October 22, 2010). "NPR's guide to blogging: act like Andrew Sullivan, Ben Smith, Ta-Nehisi Coates". WNYC. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  29. ^ Matias, J. Nathan (October 22, 2012). "The beauty and terror of commenting communities: Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Media Lab". MIT Center for Civic Media. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  30. ^ Satter, Beryl (2009). Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America (1st ed.). New York, N.Y.: Metropolitan Books. ISBN 978-0-805-07676-9. OCLC 237018885. 
  31. ^ a b Klein, Ezra (July 19, 2014). "Vox Conversations: Should America offer reparations for slavery?". Vox. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  32. ^ "Inside the Battle for Fair Housing in 1960s Chicago". The Atlantic. May 21, 2014. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  33. ^ a b c Gross, Terry (July 13, 2015). "Ta-Nehisi Coates on Police Brutality, the Confederate Flag and Forgiveness". Fresh Air. Transcript. NPR. Retrieved October 27, 2017. 
  34. ^ George, Lynell (July 9, 2008). "Lessons from Dad". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
  35. ^ Conan, Neal (June 9, 2008). "Struggling with Style – Ta-Nehisi Coates". Talk of the Nation. NPR. Retrieved August 16, 2015. 
  36. ^ Spalter, Mya (February 18, 2009). "Ta-Nehisi Coates' 'Beautiful Struggle' to Manhood". NPR. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
  37. ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (July 2014). "The Littlest Schoolhouse". The Atlantic. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
  38. ^ Jennifer Maloney (June 25, 2015). "Random House Moves Up Release of Ta-Nehisi Coates's Book on Race Relations". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 27, 2015. 
  39. ^ Kakutani, Michiko (July 9, 2015). "Review: In 'Between the World and Me,' Ta-Nehisi Coates Delivers a Searing Dispatch to His Son". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 1, 2017. 
  40. ^ Wright, Richard. "Between the World and Me". edhelper.com. Retrieved February 1, 2017. 
  41. ^ Stewart, Jon (July 23, 2015). "Exclusive – Ta-Nehisi Coates Extended Interview Pt. 1". The Jon Stewart Show. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  42. ^ Goodman, Amy (July 22, 2015). "'Between the World and Me': Ta-Nehisi Coates Extended Interview on Being Black in America". Democracy Now!. Retrieved September 8, 2015. 
  43. ^ Conyers, John (November 20, 1989). "H.R.3745 – Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act (Introduced in House – IH)". Library of Congress. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  44. ^ Conyers, John (January 3, 2013). "H.R.40 – Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act". Congress.gov. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  45. ^ Conyers, John. "Issues: Reparations". John Conyers Jr. United States Congressman. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  46. ^ Colbert, Stephen (June 16, 2014). "Ta-Nehisi Coates". The Colbert Report. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  47. ^ Norris, Michele (July 10, 2015). "Ta-Nehisi Coates Looks at the Physical Toll of Being Black in America". Morning Edition. NPR. Retrieved August 16, 2015. 
  48. ^ Lowry, Rich (July 22, 2015). "The Toxic World-View of Ta-Nehisi Coates". Politico. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
  49. ^ Hamilton, Jack (July 9, 2015). "Between the World and Me". Slate. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  50. ^ Schedeen, Jesse (May 17, 2016). "Black Panther Rules April's Comic Book Sales". IGN. 
  51. ^ Dockterman, Eliana (January 20, 2017). "Ta-Nehisi Coates Is Expanding the Black Panther Universe with The Crew". Time. 
  52. ^ "We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates". Retrieved June 21, 2017. 
  53. ^ Helm, Angela (August 28, 2017). "The Root 100 No. 1s: Ta-Nehisi Coates Wanted to Be 'the Baddest Motherfucking Writer on the Planet'". The Root. Retrieved August 30, 2017. 
  54. ^ "Ta-Nehisi Coates is 2012–2013 MLK Visiting Scholar". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved October 4, 2013. 
  55. ^ Dunkin, Amy (May 1, 2014). "Ta-Nehisi Coates Named Journalist-in-Residence for the Fall Semester". CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Retrieved August 16, 2015. 
  56. ^ "Author Ta-Nehisi Coates to Join Faculty of NYU's Carter Journalism Institute". New York University. January 30, 2017. Retrieved March 6, 2017. 
  57. ^ Kaltenbach, Chris (May 4, 2015). "Md. Film Fest panel to feature David Simon, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Taylor Branch, James McBride". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  58. ^ Cep, Casey N. (May 11, 2015). "Telling the Story of Civil Rights: A Conversation in Baltimore". The New Yorker. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  59. ^ Branch, Taylor (2006). At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965–68 (2006 Hardcover ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-85712-1. OCLC 62118415. 
  60. ^ Fleming, Jr., Mike (March 5, 2014). "The Wire's David Simon Takes on Oprah-Produced HBO Mini on Martin Luther King". Deadline.com. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  61. ^ a b "American Library in Paris – Visiting Fellowship: Library Fellows 2014–2015". American Library in Paris. Retrieved August 16, 2015. 
  62. ^ Williams, Brennan (June 8, 2017). "Ryan Coogler And Michael B. Jordan Are Working On A Fourth Film Together". Huffington Post. Retrieved June 8, 2017. 
  63. ^ "On the Etymology of the Egyptian word Nehesi 'Nubian'". 27 November 2014. 
  64. ^ Morton, Paul. "An Interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates". Bookslut. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  65. ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (January 11, 2013). "Growing Up in the Caves of Chaos". The Atlantic. Retrieved December 8, 2016. 
  66. ^ Smith, Jordan Michael (March 5, 2013). "Fear of a Black Pundit: Ta-Nehisi Coates raises his voice in American media". New York Observer. Retrieved December 19, 2013. 
  67. ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (March 2002). "Confessions of a Black Mr. Mom". Washington Monthly. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  68. ^ "Ta-Nehisi Coates". The Lavin Agency. Retrieved August 15, 2015. 
  69. ^ a b Coates, Ta-Nehisi (January 2006). "Promises of an Unwed Father". O: the Oprah Magazine. Retrieved August 16, 2015. 
  70. ^ "The Myth of Western Civilization". The Atlantic. December 31, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2015. 
  71. ^ "Ta-Nehisi Coates on Twitter". Twitter.com. December 29, 2014. Retrieved July 13, 2015. 3. Contemporary feminist critiques (40s–60s) would be awesome, but basically taking what I can get now. #twitterstorians 
  72. ^ "What Hath Feminism Wrought". The Atlantic. August 31, 2010. Retrieved July 13, 2015. 
  73. ^ Coates, Ta-Nehisi (May 9, 2016). "On Homecomings". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 11, 2016. 
  74. ^ Stack, Liam (May 11, 2016). "Ta-Nehisi Coates Opts Out of Move to Brooklyn After Media Attention". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved May 11, 2016. 
  75. ^ "The Phi Beta Kappa Society Installs its 286th Chapter at Oregon State University", The Phi Beta Kappa Society, April 28, 2016.
  76. ^ Staff (May 2, 2013). "The Atlantic Wins Two National Magazine Awards". The Atlantic. Retrieved June 10, 2015. 
  77. ^ Hartocollis, Anemona (February 15, 2015). "Polk Awards in Journalism Are Announced, Including Three for The Times". The New York Times. Retrieved February 20, 2015. 
  78. ^ Fillo, MaryEllen (June 9, 2015). "Journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates Humbly Accepts Award From Harriet Beecher Stowe Center". Hartford Courant. Retrieved June 26, 2015. 
  79. ^ Calamur, Krishnadev. "'Geniuses' Revealed". The Atlantic. Retrieved April 29, 2016. 

External links[edit]