We Were Eight Years in Power By Ta-Nehisi Coates

Book Review

Impressions

It is thought that the first documented African slaves arrived on these shores in the year 1612.

This book is so rich in historical benchmarks and telling(s) of times and people that sculptured who we are as a nation. There’s little space in this review to highlight all the points discussed. They are all so very relevant.  So, I’ll speak to a few.

I was waiting a long time for this journal and the writing is better than I’d hoped. In each generation an African American author presents to the world a treatise that paints a vivid picture in eloquent terms that speaks to the heart. This compilation points the way to understanding the deeper aspects of our culture. The results of Mr. Coates’ research is a brilliant and honest body of work and art.

He began with our most recent history

We saw Barack Obama as the quintessential choice for POTUS 44. This was a prideful offering representing how we view not only African America but America’s values.  Our gratification did not stem from just the color of his skin, rather the fact of his bona fide, the character with which he conducts his life.

The author captures this sentiment superbly.

To many of us in Chicago Barack Obama is the incarnation of what the old dreamers back in the day and just up from the south envisioned as what was possible. Barack is considered an expression of all that is good in our culture. Mr. Coates’ details of the times and social conditions that surrounded that election is brilliant journalism. His firsthand account of the primary and general, of Michelle’s roles during those history making moments should be a must read for aspiring journalists.  It goes beyond simple social studies.

We’re the hidden American culture

The book explores candidly how Michelle Obama’s middle-class upbringing seemed to be a subject of discovery for many Americans. The debates about whether she was a proudful American or not grew into a national phenomenon. It raged on explaining how the anathema amongst the White populist justified the events leading to the formation of the Tea Party. This aspect of American cultured cannot be defined or explained enough. Coates clarified in painful detail this false narrative that helped propel theories as fact that the first African American President is not a true American, in some quarters he lacked human attributes. It’s a painful reminder.

This book peels a way so much of what White American has chosen not to address or understand about our post World War II parentage.  Come up from the south they built communities where our doctors were black, the lawyer, real estate brokers, grocer and butcher were all people of color. It was considered disrespectful to patronize a white business when there were “our people” needing the work. African America enjoyed with pride insular communities. The author captures this recollection with care and great understanding.

 “The South Side was almost a black world unto itself, replete with the economic and cultural complexity of the greater city. There were debutantes and cotillions as well as gangs and drug addicts, Mostly, there were men like Fraser Robinson, black people working a job, trying to get by. The diversity and the demographics allowed the Robinsons to protect their kids from the street life, and also from digest, personal racism.”

Reparation; to make amends, to bring whole what was taken.

Coates’ views on the “banditry” of African Americans debates brilliantly the reasons for his heartbreak on this subject. The robbing of African Americans of heritage and vows of reparations is explored in this book. He explains the machinations surrounding broken promises made of forty acres and a mule to the various failed social reforms I’ll address later in this review.

The only thing missing in this chapter is the harsh reality of the lack of economic value our country still holds for its African American communities.  I’ve not to date viewed a plausible quant study on the cost to the Negro culture. It is indeed worth taking a knee for. According to the statistics in this book there’s continued harshness visited upon the African American, we’ve certainly earned the right to peacefully protest these egregious symptoms of imbalance.

It is hard to convey how needful it is for everyone to understand that we are not a “Photonegative of each other” – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Honesty

Coates uses as example social economists like Patrick Moynihan who lent his brilliance to creating various iterations of social programs meant to alleviate the Negro plight. Most failed and instead of them becoming teachable times, they more than often created deeper chasms of social wrongs. These social experiments have left indelible societal scars that will last for generations.

The end of marginalization is a many generational and much wish for event. And yet here we are again…more “the other” than ever…. or so it sometime seems.

Story/Plot/Conflict

Where do we go from here?  This story seems ageless but this writing will rank among the finest example of journalism.

The plot is yet to be discovered. Not until the current American culture comes to understand the nature of marginalization and its hideous influence on socio-economics and sovereign survival. Will this “plot” ever be understood.

The conflict lies in the need to dismiss and not read books like this that bring some understanding to the why of our selective ignorance about each other.

Critiques This work is a must read for everyone. No matter the country or culture there are lessons in this book that are needful to humanity. Ta-Nehisi Coates joins the esteem ranks of this generation’s finest author.

Thank you, Mr. Coates