Ta-Nehisi Coates' sharp criticism of Bernie Sanders on racial justice generally, and the issue of reparations in particular, has kicked up some interesting discussion and heated debate. Left responses to Coates piece – and Coates’ subsequent responses to his critics – have foregrounded once more the importance of thinking through the relationship between “race” and “class” in the imagination and the political strategy of an emancipatory social movement. The importance of such discussions, though clearly relevant to the current Presidential campaign, extends well beyond it, revealing and potentially informing the state of the radical imagination, as expressed in artistic works, critical discourse, as well as social movement culture, tactics, and strategy.Read More
Since appearing last summer, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book Between the World and Me has sparked enthusiastic discussion, from Democracy Now! to the Daily Show, from The Atlantic to Facebook, from classrooms and hallways to street corners and barbershops. The text has become a NYT #1 best-seller, has now won the National Book Award for non-fiction, and has no doubt been largely responsible for earning its author a prestigious MacArthur “genius” grant.
Among the many questions being widely discussed is one of literary lineage: Is Ta-Nehisi Coates the new James Baldwin?
Toni Morrison prompted this question with an exuberant back cover blurb, perhaps singlehandedly guaranteeing that Between the World And Me would climb the best-sellers list...Read More
Alongside the poems that interrupt, enrich, and prompt us to reflect on her autobiographical narrative, Assata Shakur also includes in her text a number of less lyrical writing samples, including speeches she reads at trial to contest her accusers, and political statements that she issues from prison. Even behind walls and in chains, her voice continues to resonate, as it resonates still today, from exile in Cuba.
Addressed to “Black brothers, Black sisters,” Shakur’s statement from prison “To My People” makes clear that while her project is anchored in the struggles facing African Americans, the enemy is to be understood in political and in class terms.Read More
Among the more strikingly radical figures invoked by #BlackLivesMatter has been exiled Black revolutionary Assata Shakur. The former Black Panther, dubiously convicted “cop killer,” and wanted “terrorist” fugitive has become a recognized emblem in the movement, even though Assata herself, underground in Cuba, remains publicly quiet regarding the recent upsurge. Nonetheless, at demonstrations across the US, lines from Shakur’s autobiography have been turned into a kind of movement mantra.Read More