Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.

— Ta-Nehisi Coates

The most passioned Ta-Nehisi Coates quotes that will inspire your inner self

An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future.

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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.

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I did not know then that this is what life is - just when you master the geometry of one world, it slips away, and suddenly again, you're swarmed by strange shapes and impossible angles.

43

What I am telling you is that you do not need to know to love, and it is right that you feel it all in any moment. And it is right that you see it through--that you are amazed, then curious, then belligerent, then heartbroken, then numb. You have the right to all of it.

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When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse.

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[E]mpathy - not squishy self-serving conflict avoidance - is the hand-maiden, not the enemy, of reason and intellectual inquiry.

28

If George Washington crossing the Delaware matters, so must his ruthless pursuit of the runagate Oney Judge.

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The standard progressive approach of the moment is to mix color-conscious moral invective with color-blind public policy.

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The essence of American racism is disrespect.

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Barack Obama is the president of the United States of America.

More specifically, Barack Obama is the president of a congenitally racist country, erected upon the plunder of life, liberty, labor, and land. This plunder has not been exclusive to black people. - Ta

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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.

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The Knowledge Rule 2080: From maggots to men, the world is a corner bully.

Better you knuckle up and go for yours than have to bow your head and tuck your chain.

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About Ta-Nehisi Coates

Quotes 51 sayings
Profession Writer
Birthday 1975

That's not an accident that Donald Trump didn't begin with, say, trade or jobs or anything, that he actually began by otherizing the first African-American president of the United States.

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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.

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The progressive approach to policy which directly addresses the effects of white supremacy is simple - talk about class and hope no one notices.

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Addressing the moral failings of black people while ignoring the centuries-old failings of their governments amounts to a bait and switch.

6

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.

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Lot of folks like to mock dumb history, and pretend it's just a few idiots. Isn't. It's the country.

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I think there's a sort of, you know, very thin way of reading this that says, well, Barack Obama is biracial thus that gives him some understanding of both white America and black America, but that's not really it.

3

[Barack Obama] grew up in Hawaii, far, far removed from the most, you know, sort of violent, you know, tendencies of Jim Crow and segregation. He wasn't directly exposed to that. He was untraumatized.

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The greatest reward of this constant interrogation, confrontation with the brutality of my country, is that it has freed me from hosts and myths.

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I think President [Barack] Obama deeply underestimated the force of white supremacy in American life.

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In particular in how [Barack Obama] has directed what you could describe as patronizing remarks to African-American communities.

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When you have a policy of making sure that African Americans cannot build wealth, of plundering African American communities of wealth, giving opportunities to other people, it's only right that you might want to, you know, pay that back.

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I would flip this the other way and say over 90 percent of African-Americans voted against Donald Trump.

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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.

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Just because you came here in 1880, 1950, whenever, you became an American.

You get to celebrate July 4th like every other American. You don't just get the good part. You get the bad part, too. You get all of it.

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I want to be really, really clear about this.

It doesn't mean that everyone or even the majority of people who voted for Donald Trump are racist or white supremacists or anything like that. But what it means is that it's not a mistake that Trump began his campaign with birthersism .

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[Winning the White House was an achievement], but as an African-American, [Barack Obama], I think the symbolism is in how he conducted himself. The symbolism was in - and this sounds really, really small, but it's actually big for African-Americans - the symbolism was not in being an embarrassment, but to being a figure that folks were actually proud of.

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Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred.

It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others.

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Racism is, among other things, the unearned skepticism of one group of humans joined to the unearned sympathy for another.

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[Donald Trump] went on to, you know, otherize Muslims, otherize Latinos, otherize women, that he built out from that. And it can be true that a unique, you know, individual like Barack Obama can succeed in spite of that and still be the case that that force is quite, quite strong.

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My mom used to tell me, I can't use this phrase on the radio - but basically don't be one of those dudes hanging on the corner.

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It was a week after Donald Trump had won.

And initially he was still optimistic. He felt that things would be OK ultimately. And I have to tell you, this is the area where, you know, I see, you know, some degree of contradiction. I mean, the president, you know, at one point when he was campaigning said I believe that Donald Trump was not qualified to run a 7-Eleven.

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These were the days when I powerfully believed Breyers and Entenmann's to be pioneers in the field of antidepressants.

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What sets black people apart is not some deficit in personal responsibility.

It's the weight on our shoulders. That is what's actually different. We have the weight and burden of history.

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Is the Jewish race thriftier than the Arab race?

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I don't know how you bridge that contradiction, but I felt that Barack Obama was sincere. It didn't feel like a line to me. You know, it felt like him reverting back to what was in his bones and that's, you know, optimism and a deep belief in, you know, American institutions and the American people.

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I think, as a writer, I'm in my own head.

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I think the sad fact is, there's a long history in this country at looking at African-American as subhuman. And I think that's reflected in the fact that, when we have problems that really are problems of employment, that are really problems of mental health, that are really problems of drugs, our answer is the police.

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What it is is that Barack Obama was raised by a white mother and two white grandparents who, A, told him he was black and that there was nothing wrong with being black.

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This feeling African-Americans have, this skepticism towards the police and the skepticism that the police show towards African-Americans is actually quite old. And it may be one of the most durable aspects of the relationship between black people and their country really in our history.

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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.

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Segregations, by which I mean people living in a certain area, was a planned system. It was made that way. And what you have is a system in which people are there to be exploited. They're right there waiting for it. A community of people who've been denied wealth, denied wealth-building opportunities, are right there. And the banks went right after them.

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The best part of writing is not the communication of knowledge to other people, but the acquisition and synthesizing of knowledge for oneself.

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I think the president [Barack Obama] adopted some of that same language, but took it into the White House. And I think, like, there's a crucial difference between being, you know, Joe Schmo in the neighborhood and being the head, you know, of the government that, you know, in many ways is largely responsible for those conditions in the first place.

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You can live in the world of myth and be taken seriously.

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[Grew up in Hawaii] that gave [Barack Obama] a kind of optimism, an ability to see things, you know, and frankly, an ability to trust, you know, in his fellow, you know, white countrymen in a way that I, for instance, you know, and the vast majority of black people I know never really could.

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Any time you have, you know, upwards of 90 percent of a demographic voting against somebody, that's a statement.

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