‘Writing without shallow polemic and in a measured style, Coates addresses complex and challenging issues such as racial identity, systemic racial bias, and urban policing,’ declared the MacArthur Foundation.
Journalist, author, and leading voice on anti-black racism in America, Ta-Nehisi Coates, was revealed Tuesday to be one of 24 recipients of the 2015 MacArthur Genius awards.
“Writing without shallow polemic and in a measured style, Coates addresses complex and challenging issues such as racial identity, systemic racial bias, and urban policing,” declared the foundation. “He subtly embeds the present—in the form of anecdotes about himself or others—into historical analysis in order to illustrate how the implications of the past are still experienced by people today.”
A Baltimore native and current national correspondent for The Atlantic, Coates was recognized by the foundation for his groundbreaking article, The Case for Reparations, as well as his memoirs The Beautiful Struggle and Between the World and Me. In the latter, the foundation states, Coates “unflinchingly articulates the physical and mental experience of being a black man in America today.”
In a video on the foundation website, Coates touched upon the philosophy and theory underpinning his work—which examines poverty, mass incarceration, and institutional racism. “My argument for reparations for slavery is really quite simple,” he explained. “The relationship between black people and their country is of their country taking from them.”
“There is no way to have a 250-plus-year history of extracting resources from a community and think you are going to fix the problems of that community without putting some of that back,” Coates added.
The writer went on to declare that he was “ecstatic” upon learning he had received the award. “We labor in the dark,” he said. “If anyone even reads what I’m doing, that’s a great day.”
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