Ta-Nehisi Coates is out with a new excerpt from We Were Eight Years In Power: An American Tragedy – The Guardian:
The implications of the true story are existential and corrosive to our larger national myth. To understand that the most costly war in this country’s history was launched in direct opposition to everything the country claims to be, to understand that it was the product of centuries of enslavement, which is to see an even longer, more total war, is to alter the accepted conception of America as a beacon of freedom. How does one face this truth or forge a national identity out of it?
For now the country holds to the common theory that emancipation and civil rights were redemptive, a fraught and still-incomplete resolution of the accidental hypocrisy of a nation founded by slaveholders extolling a gospel of freedom. This common theory dominates much of American discourse, from left to right. Conveniently, it holds the possibility of ultimate resolution, for if right-thinking individuals can dedicate themselves to finishing the work of ensuring freedom for all, then perhaps the ghosts of history can be escaped. It was the common theory – through its promise of a progressive American history, where the country improves itself inexorably and necessarily – that allowed for Obama’s rise. And it was that rise that offered me that chance to see that theory for the illusion that it was.
Immersed in my reading, it became clear to me that the common theory of providential progress, of the inevitable reconciliation between the sin of slavery and the democratic ideal, was myth.
For those seeking a clearer distillation, this is Coates at full strength, clearly written, telling his and his community’s story.
#Ta-Nehisi #Coates #race #America