Cultural critic and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates has inspired us -- and many others --through his writing on the intersection of the race and policy and their application to modern-day realities. He was recognized among this year's TIME magazine's list of the 30 most influential people on the Internet, ranking higher than Kim Kardashian and President Obama.
In his forthcoming memoir, Between the World and Me, due Tuesday, Coates investigates the marginalization of the black community while also reflecting on personal experiences. The book, which is partly addressed to his son, has already earned rave reviews. The cover of the book is branded with praise from Toni Morrison herself, who writes: "This is required reading."
We rounded up some of Coates' most powerful quotes. They intend to serve as a refreshing reminder of the words and intellectual wisdom Coates has shared over the years, across a variety of his pieces and platforms -- whether it's over 10, 000 words detailing "The Case for Reparations" or 140 characters lampooning the ignorance of racism, Coates' matter-of-fact social commentary deals with the reality of being black in America.
3. "With segregation, with the isolation of the injured and the robbed, comes the concentration of disadvantage. An unsegregated America might see poverty, and all its effects, spread across the country with no particular bias toward skin color. Instead, the concentration of poverty has been paired with a concentration of melanin."
4. "Humans also tend to find community to be pleasurable, and within the boundaries of community relationships, words — often ironic and self-deprecating — are always spoken that take on other meanings when uttered by others."
6. "All you need to understand is that the officer carries with him the power of the American state and the weight of an American legacy, and they necessitate that of the bodies destroyed every year, some wild and disproportionate number of them will be black."
7. "The standard progressive approach of the moment is to mix color-conscious moral invective with color-blind public policy."
8. "Never forget that we were enslaved in this country longer than we have been free. Never forget that for 250 years black people were born into chains—whole generations followed by more generations who knew nothing but chains."
10. "I was a black boy at the height of the crack era, which meant that my instructors pitched education as the border between those who would prosper in America, and those who would be fed to the great hydra of prison, teenage pregnancy and murder."
11. "The laments about 'black pathology,' the criticism of black family structures by pundits and intellectuals, ring hollow in a country whose existence was predicated on the torture of black fathers, on the rape of black mothers, on the sale of black children. An honest assessment of America’s relationship to the black family reveals the country to be not its nurturer but its destroyer."
12. "The progressive approach to policy which directly addresses the effects of white supremacy is simple -- talk about class and hope no one notices."
13. "To prevent enabling oppression, we demand that black people be twice as good. To prevent verifying stereotypes, we pledge to never eat a slice a watermelon in front of white people."
—"In Defense of a Loaded Word," New York Times Magazine
14. "Addressing the moral failings of black people while ignoring the centuries-old failings of their governments amounts to a bait and switch."
"The greatest reward of this constant interrogation, confrontation with the brutality of my country, is that it has freed me from hosts and myths."