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text 2018-02-17 20:21
Currently free on Kindle
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1 - Ta-Nehisi Coates,Brian Stelfreeze

Free for kindle, at least in the US

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review 2018-01-12 20:31
A Memoir that maybe should have waited
The Beautiful Struggle: A Memoir Reprint edition by Coates, Ta-Nehisi (2009) Paperback - Ta-Nehisi Coates
I had high expectations. Perhaps audio wasn't the way to "read" this. Perhaps I waited too long, after reading all of Coates' journalism and his beautiful Between the World and Me. It just didn't wow me the way I'd hoped. What it DID do is make me want him to wait a decade and write another memoir. Perhaps I'll come back to this after letting it digest, or perhaps I'll pick up the written word and read it properly someday.
Being a Baltimorean who lived in and knows the neighborhoods, it was easy to imagine everything he mentions. He's also very close to my age. Both of these things make it hard for me to understand why I wasn't more affected by this book.


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review 2017-12-29 16:19
Black Panther Vols 1-3
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1 - Ta-Nehisi Coates,Brian Stelfreeze
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 2 - Ta-Nehisi Coates,Chris Sprouse
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Vol. 3 (Black Panther (2016-)) - Brian Stelfreeze,Ta-Nehisi Coates

In fairness, I should note that I have been neutral on the issue of Black Panther.  I never read much Avengers.  I was more interested when Storm married him, though I did not like the retcon, and I understand his importance and the importance of his marriage.  I hope that the Black Panther movie earns the most of any Marvel movie ever, and am perfectly content with it earning more than Wonder Woman.


                I mean, have you looked at that cast?


                The reason I pointed out the above is that I cannot evaluate how the first three collected volumes of Coates run compare to other Panther story lines or the larger Marvel Mythos of the character.


                Coates’ first arc seems to occur at a time of change in Wakanda, the Panther’s home and his kingdom.  His sister is not alive and not dead, his marriage is annulled, and T’Challa is feeling a bit resentful and angry.  The kingdom itself is feeling the same, and some members of the Dora Milaje eventually take matters into their own hands. 

This was expected for Coates hinted at it during a talk shortly after signing with Marvel.


                Some of the conflict that Wakanda faces are about the question of rule, whether a monarchy can actually, truly serve the people in the way the people want to be served.  If Coates doesn’t give the question the full space and examination that it deserves, then it is more the fault of format and cooperate control than anything.  (Think of the scene in the last Jedi where the stolen ship reveals that its true owner sold arms to both the First Order and Resistance.  Del Toro’s character has a point, but there is no time to really look at it).


                In truth, though, it isn’t T’Challa’s journey that is the most fascinating, but his sister’s, Shuri’s, who is in something of a coma.  In her state, she goes on a true spiritual journey, and learns to be, among other things, a griot.  It is with Shuri that Coates really, truly explores the idea of history, rule, and duty.  In many ways, the first three volumes are more about women than about T’Challa himself.


                Which is cool.


                Part of what Coates also looks at is Wakanda’s place in the larger world, which is somewhat interesting.  Guests stars are kept to a minimum, basically being the Crew – including Storm, who, to be frank, is dealt with way too easily in a fight, but her words are Storm.


                It is an interesting story because here words are just as important, if not more so, than actions.  It is reader’s comic arc.

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review 2017-11-29 14:55
My Black Body
Between the World and Me - Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates beautifully describes what it is like to be black in America. To have the world treat and see you as different because of the color of your skin. 


This is a collection of essays that Coates wrote to his son about his experiences growing up black in America and his thoughts of a lot of the police violence that surrounds being a black teen in America. And he describes how scared many black parents are when raising their children and doing what they can to ensure that they "get" how things are in this world. He segues back and forth into many pivotal points during the U.S.'s history (Civil War, Civil Rights, 9/11). 


This will make you uncomfortable. This will make you think. This will make you realize that in a hundred thousand different ways in America we do our best to tell everyone the American dream is for you, but than we hard pause and say it's not for you (if you are black, if you are Muslim, if you are Asian, if you are Hispanic) if you don't fit what the America true ideal is which is to be white and Christian.


“Black people love their children with a kind of obsession. You are all we have, and you come to us endangered.”


“The destroyers will rarely be held accountable. Mostly they will receive pensions.”


“You may have heard the talk of diversity, sensitivity training, and body cameras. These are all fine and applicable, but they understate the task and allow the citizens of this country to pretend that there is real distance between their own attitudes and those of the ones appointed to protect them. The truth is that the police reflect America in all of its will and fear, and whatever we might make of this country’s criminal justice policy, it cannot be said that it was imposed by a repressive minority. The abuses that have followed from these policies—the sprawling carceral state, the random detention of black people, the torture of suspects—are the product of democratic will. And so to challenge the police is to challenge the American people who send them into the ghettos armed with the same self-generated fears that compelled the people who think they are white to flee the cities and into the Dream. The problem with the police is not that they are fascist pigs but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs.”

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review 2017-10-02 00:00
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy - Ta-Nehisi Coates WE WERE EIGHT YEARS IN POWER revisits the best of Coates's writing in The Atlantic from the past 8 years - one for every year of Barack Obama's presidency - in the context of today. Coates doesn't mince words; we are living in a racist, imperfect time and there's no guarantee America will see that end in any of our lifetimes. President Obama's election couldn't change it, and now the country has embraced shameless, boldfaced racist rhetoric in direct response to his administration, rather than pretending it doesn't exist. The truth is that America as we know it could not exist without systemic racism built into our laws, into the very founding of the country itself. We have to acknowledge this past in order to start any reasonable discussion of racism today.

This is not a hopeful book. There are no answers within the pages. But if there was ever essential reading, this is a fine place to start.
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