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The prefaces to each essay are the writer at the height of his critical powers, both of his own work and of the current historical moment.Of the collected essays, I agree with Coates’s assessment regarding “The Case for Reparations”: “I thought I was at my best when I could combine the reporting and the essay.To a sagacious and a discerning eye, madness is a kind of divine sense.
If you are concerned about social justice issues and racism in our current moment and across the broad swathe of American history, you need to read this book.
It’s a book I wish all Americans would read and think about.
None of that is to say that Coates’s analysis doesn’t bear thinking about.
Perhaps many people haven’t thought hard enough about just how much of a role racism played in that election since the two major party candidates are both white.
, where Coates has been making waves as “America’s best writer on race,” an assessment he admits makes him “retch” (117).
He doesn’t explicitly say so, but I suppose it’s partly the fact that so many white people turn to him as the authority, the purveyor of “the black perspective.” I wonder if he feels like, as a character in ” (118).Had Hillary Clinton been a man with all the same qualifications she possesses, I think she’d be president now.She did win the popular vote, and I believe that she would also have won the electoral vote if she were a man.Conversely too much of practical outlook (sense) is a kind of madness.That is how the discerning eyes of poets and philosophers view them, but sadly, the majority view prevails in this, as in all oilier things in life.Coates writes a preface to each essay, except for the last, “The First White President,” which serves as an epilogue.In his prefaces, he discusses where his mind was at the time of writing the essay, what his process was like, and how he views the work now.It’s clear he is confused by this attention, but one need only read the pages of to understand why the attention confuses him.He is accustomed to a white America that does not listen to the complete story of itself. He has a gift for laying those myths bare and reminding us to consider what we would prefer to forget.If you agree with the majority, you are regarded sane.If you demur and raise objections to the majority view, you are regarded as insane and are straight away put in chains and sent to a lunatic house.