The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of a handful of writers/bloggers that I greatly admire and make an effort to read on a daily basis — he’s that good.
Yes, much of his writing is on race in America, but what makes him so good is that he’s able to spin his writings on race to be nearly universal. Race is merely a subtext to a much larger canvas. This sums up his views on tackling race quite well:
Writers who focus on race/gender/sexual orientation are often of the mind that the issues that they are tackling have, somehow, never been tackled before, or if so, have not been tackled “honestly” or “forthrightly” or “candidly.” In the arena of race, the notion that Americans “don’t talk about race” is a particularly pernicious rendition of this logic. I’ve never actually found this to be true. On the contrary, there’s a lot of literature on the subject — some of it enlightening, some of it clueless, and some of it racist. The sheer amount of material should, theoretically, raise the bar for “writing about race.”
But because Americans actually enjoy yelling about race a great deal, it does not. At this moment, Huber’s piece is the most read story on his home site. I am certain his editors are unsurprised. I think I could drum up all sorts of traffic if only I mentioned reparations, Ron Paul and the Confederate flag every other post. I think this is why, with some regularity, we are bombarded with bad journalism premised on getting us to “talk about race.”
He is specific, subtle, and yet somehow universal. Again, just savor this piece on eating oatmeal. It’s hilarious, informative, succinct, and just fucking perfect.
Coates has become a goddamn national treasure and he deserves all the accolades being heaped upon him — including this great profile of him by the New York Observer.
“I think I write about America, and about things that interest me,” he told The Observer. Race is merely one thing that interests Coates in America’s historical tapestry.
It’s a remarkable recipe that should be consumed daily.