Award-winning author Ta-NehisiCoatesis currently touring and discussing his first novel, “The Water Dancer,” in venues across the country.
Upcoming dates include the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago on Thursday, October 3, where Coates will be joined in conversation by renowned Chicago poet, Tara Betts, and October 17th at West Angeles Cathedral in Los Angeles, where Coates will be in conversation with Black Panther, Creed and Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler.
To register for Chicago, click here. To register for Los Angeles, click here.
“The Water Dancer” follows Hiram Walker, a young slave in antebellum Virginia , as he explores the metaphorical and metaphysical boundaries of his world.
A remarkable blend of historical fiction and fantasy, evocatively detailed and constantly thought-provoking,“The Water Dancer” serves as a profound reminder of Coates ongoing proposition: that we must remember and speak of our history in relation to present predicaments.
To see more of Coates’ upcoming tour dates and information on tickets, click here.
In response to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell‘s recent dismissal of reparations as not “a good idea” for the U.S. government to consider giving descendants of enslaved people, especially since no one currently alive “is responsible,” “Between the World and Me” author Ta-Nehisi Coates told lawmakers at a House committee hearing that the debate over reparations is “a dilemma of inheritance.”
Coates told lawmakers that many of the inequalities created by centuries of slavery persist today, including in the form of economic and health disparities. Watch Coates above read his 2014 “The Case for Reparations” essay here, read some of his testimony below:
The method of cultivating this asset was neither gentle cajoling nor persuasion, but torture, rape, and child trafficking. Enslavement reigned for 250 years on these shores. When it ended, this country could have extended its hallowed principles — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — to all, regardless of color. But America had other principles in mind. And so, for a century after the Civil War, black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror, a campaign that extended well into the lifetime of Majority Leader McConnell.
It is tempting to divorce this modern campaign of terror, of plunder, from enslavement, but the logic of enslavement, of white supremacy, respects no such borders, and the god of bondage was lustful and begat many heirs. Coup d’états and convict leasing. Vagrancy laws and debt peonage. Redlining and racist G.I. bills. Poll taxes and state-sponsored terrorism.
We grant that Mr. McConnell was not alive for Appomattox. But he was alive for the electrocution of George Stinney. He was alive for the blinding of Isaac Woodard. He was alive to witness kleptocracy in his native Alabama and a regime premised on electoral theft. Majority Leader McConnell cited civil rights legislation yesterday, as well he should, because he was alive to witness the harassment, jailing, and betrayal of those responsible for that legislation by a government sworn to protect them. He was alive for the redlining of Chicago and the looting of black homeowners of some $4 billion. Victims of that plunder are very much alive today. I am sure they’d love a word with the majority leader.
What they know, what this committee must know, is that while emancipation deadbolted the door against the bandits of America, Jim Crow wedged the windows wide open. And that is the thing about Senator McConnell’s “something”: It was 150 years ago. And it was right now.
The typical black family in this country has one-tenth the wealth of the typical white family. Black women die in childbirth at four times the rate of white women. And there is, of course, the shame of this land of the free boasting the largest prison population on the planet, of which the descendants of the enslaved make up the largest share.
According to jbhe.com, the student body of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. recently voted on a proposal to add a semester fee of $27.20 that would go toward a fund to benefit descendants of the 272 enslaved persons once owned and then sold in 1838 by the university to pay off debt. The referendum passed by a vote of 2,541 to 1,304, which means nearly two-thirds of enrolled students are in favor of the new fee.
“The university values the engagement of our students and appreciates that 3,845 students made their voices heard in yesterday’s election,” said Todd Olson, Georgetown’s Vice President for Student Affairs, in an official statement. “Our students are contributing to an important national conversation and we share their commitment to addressing Georgetown’s history with slavery.”
Georgetown administrators, however, have said the student referendum is nonbinding, and the school’s 39-member board of directors would have to vote on the measure, according to the school’s student newspaper, the Hoya.
If Georgetown’s board approves, reports The Huffington Post, it would be one of the first major U.S. institutions to create a fund for slavery reparations.
Critics of the reparations fund have argued that it should not be current students’ responsibility to atone for the school’s past.
Nationally, the issue of reparations has been in the spotlight lately. Earlier this week, the New York Times published an opinion piece entitled “When Slaveowners Got Reparations”, pointing out how President Lincoln signed a bill in 1862 that paid up to $300 to slaveholders for every enslaved person freed when he emancipated those in bondage in Washington D.C. In 2014, journalist and best-selling author Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote “The Case for Reparations,” for The Atlantic, highlighting the topic, and even typically conservative NY Times writer David Brookswrote in March why he’s come around to the cause.
Marvel Entertainment is preparing to launch a new comic book series centered around T’Challa’s sister, Shuri, months after the character stole the show in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther movie.
As revealed at Bustle, the new series — to be called, simply, Shuri — will be written by award-winning author Nnedi Okorafor, who penned the digital comic series Black Panther: Long Live the King for Marvel, with art by Hawkeye artist Leonardo Romero.
“[Shuri is] an African young woman of genius level intelligence who is obsessed with technology and has traveled spiritually so far into the past that she’s seen Wakanda before it was Wakanda. The Ancestors call her Ancient Future. And she’s super ambitious. What do I love about her? Alllll that and more,” Okorafor is quoted as saying.
The series will fit into the continuity of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther comic book series, where T’Challa has moved into space to explore the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda, leaving the actual nation without a leader…which means that Shuri, as the next in line to the throne, has to step up as monarch, whether or not she likes it.
Chadwick Boseman struggled to catch his breath after he was cast as Black Panther. When he first tried on his spandex suit for 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War,” it felt too restricting. “It was suffocating,” recalls Boseman. “Literally, it closed off every possibility of air getting to you. I was in it, put the mask on. I said, ‘Hey, you got to get me out of this!’” By the time he headlined his own movie, as the first black Marvel superhero with his name on the poster, Boseman was more comfortable in his re-engineered costume. “I think it begins to feel like skin after a while,” says the 41-year-old actor. “But it takes time to get to that place.”
The same can be said for Disney’s long-awaited tentpole “Black Panther,” which opens in theaters on Feb. 16. For decades, actors, directors, producers and fans have wondered why Hollywood was so slow to bring black superheroes to the big screen. It’s not that there weren’t attempts along the way. In the ’90s, Warner Bros. had originally tapped Marlon Wayans to portray Robin in a “Batman” movie, before Chris O’Donnell landed the sidekick role. Wesley Snipes starred in the vampire superhero franchise “Blade,” which spawned two sequels. In 2004, Halle Berry headlined “Catwoman,” which was ridiculed by critics and tanked at the box office. And 12 years later, Will Smith, the co-star of the juggernaut “Men in Black,” popped up in “Suicide Squad” as the under-seen assassin Deadshot.
“Black Panther,” directed by Ryan Coogler, is a movie that doubles as a movement, or at least a moment that feels groundbreaking in the same way that last year’s runaway hit “Wonder Woman” inspired millions of women. “Panther” marks the first time that a major studio has greenlit a black superhero movie with an African-American director and a primarily black cast, including Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright as Shuri, the princess of the fictional African country Wakanda.
The reality of this milestone isn’t lost on Coogler, the 31-year-old director of the Sundance darling “Fruitvale Station” and the “Rocky” sequel “Creed.” “I think progress comes in ebbs and flows,” Coogler says. “I hope things continue to open up. As more content gets made, more opportunities like ours can come about for folks. But you’ve got to put your foot on the gas when it comes to that or things can go back to where they were.”
“Black Panther” chronicles an origin story for a Marvel character who first made his debut in the comic books in 1966. On the big screen, he’s a warrior named T’Challa, who returns home to an Afro-futuristic country to inherit the throne as king. The release of the movie coincides with a crossroads in America. Racial tensions are heightened as a result of a president who continually makes reprehensible remarks about immigrants from nonwhite countries. “Black Panther” also arrives on the heels of #OscarsSoWhite, the two consecutive years (2015 and 2016) that the Motion Picture Academy failed to nominate any actors of color for awards.
Anticipation for the release of “Black Panther” is much higher than for the last outings from Batman and Thor. In May 2016, the hashtag #BlackPantherSoLIT started trending on Twitter as casting details around the movie emerged. “Panther” is poised to break box office records for February, a typically quieter time as audiences catch up on romantic comedies around Valentine’s Day. Marvel’s latest crown jewel is tracking to gross an estimated $150 million on its opening weekend. Strong business for “Black Panther,” which cost nearly $200 million to produce and roughly $150 million more to market, would send a clear message to the movie industry that certain communities are still widely underserved. While domestic ticket sales plummeted last year, the number of frequent African-American moviegoers nearly doubled to 5.6 million in 2016, according to a survey by the Motion Picture Assn. of America.
Some are paying attention. “Representation matters,” says Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, which owns Marvel. “It’s a powerful and important thing for people to know they are seen and to see themselves reflected in our films and the stories we tell.” Horn believes that “Black Panther” is part of a wave of change. “In terms of gender diversity, we’ve done very well,” he says, pointing to his studio’s own roster that includes “Beauty and the Beast,” “Coco” and the upcoming live-action “Mulan.” “When it comes to diversity reflecting color and ethnicity, I’d say yes, you will see more.” Continue reading “Chadwick Boseman and Ryan Coogler on How ‘Black Panther’ Makes History | Variety”→
Director Ryan Coogler and actor Michael B. Jordan will reunite once again for an adaptation of a 2014 essay in The New Yorker titled “Wrong Answer,” written by Rachel Aviv, which explores an adult standardized test cheating scandal at Atlanta Public Schools through the lens of one middle school. If Coogler reteaming with Jordan wasn’t thrilling enough, Ta-Nehisi Coates is attached to write the screenplay based on Aviv’s article.
In addition, Brad Pitt’s Plan B (producer on Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight,” as well as “Selma,” “12 Years a Slave” and more) will produce “Wrong Answer” with Coogler, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Keliner. New Regency will also produce and fully finance the picture. Jordan will star as math teacher Damany Lewis, who struggles under the pressure imposed on his students and school to meet unrealistic standardized testing scores as part of the No Child Left Behind project. In order to save their jobs and prevent their school from shutting down, he joined in an effort to cheat the scores.
The scandal led to 11 teachers being convicted on racketeering charges. This will be the 4th time Coogler and Jordan will work together after “Fruitvale Station,” “Creed” and the upcoming “Black Panther,” which Coates has also been involved in, writing the new Black Panther comic book series, which influences Coogler’s upcoming Marvel and Disney superhero film.
“Between the World and Me,”Ta-Nehisi Coates’s award-winning book exploring racial injustice in America, will be brought to the Apollo stage next April.
Mr. Coates’s fiery work — which made him the National Book Award winner and a Pulitzer Prize finalist — will be adapted into a multimedia performance, with excerpted monologues, video projections, and a score by the jazz musician Jason Moran.
Portions of Mr. Coates’s letters to his son would be read aloud, while narratives of his experiences at Howard University and in New York City could be performed by actors. Kamilah Forbes, the Apollo’s executive producer, will direct the production.
The coming Apollo season will be Ms. Forbes’s first full season in the role; she previously was the associate director of “Raisin in the Sun” on Broadway.
Between the deaths of greats like Prince and Mohammed Ali, the destruction in Aleppo and the circus that was the U.S. presidential election, 2016 was the year of one awful thing after another.
But despite the awfulness, stellar writing by people of color provided clarity, comfort and insight in even the darkest moments this year.
For the second year in a row, we’ve curated a list of essays and articles that defined conversations about race, pop culture, politics and identity in 2016. They cover a wide array of topics, from reactions to the election of Donald Trump, to the huge role young black people play in internet culture, to the genius of James Baldwin. The criteria is simple: all pieces on this list were written by a person of color and published within the last year online.
As a look back, this year-end list is by no means fully comprehensive of all the stellar work written by writers of color in 2016. Feel there’s a glaring omission? Nominate your favorite pieces in the comments. In the meantime, check out these powerful, thought-provoking and entertaining reads from this year:
How Journalists Of Color Plan To Survive Trump’s America Wilfred Chan, Fusion
What will it mean to be a journalist in the age of Trump? How will journalists of color get through the next four years? Wilfred Chan writes about the “psychological tax” many journalists of color are forced to pay in order to do the work, and the ways in which continuing to write is not only a form of self-care but also a form of survival.
Black Life And Death In A Familiar America Eve L. Ewing, Fader
Published in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, Ewing explores the deep racial divides in America by way of Chicago. Using the shooting death of Joshua Beal as a connective thread, Ewing deftly explores the correlations between black death in America and the so-called “rise” of hate.
I Will Never Underestimate White People’s Need To Preserve Whiteness Again Damon Young, Very Smart Brothas
For many black people in America, the election of Donald Trump felt like a rude awakening, a harsh reminder that the racist wounds of this country go far deeper than any of us wanted to admit to ourselves. The ever-brilliant Damon Young perfectly captured that feeling in this essay for Very Smart Brothas, where he bluntly explains how white supremacy works on a systemic level.
Mourning For Whiteness Toni Morrison, The New Yorker
Toni Morrison breaks it all the way down in this post-election essay where she quite matter-of-factly calls out the reason that Donald Trump won the presidential election: the fear of losing white privilege. “So scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength,”Morrison writes. “These people are not so much angry as terrified.”
What I Said When My White Friend Asked For My Black Opinion On White Privilege Lori Lakin Hutcherson, The Huffington Post
The concept of “white privilege” is constantly debated, challenged, and questioned, particularly by white people. What is it? Is it even real? And what about “black privilege?” HuffPost contributor Lori Lakin Hutcherson shares her own candid views on the topic of white privilege, and the realities of being black in America today.
Interview With A Woman Who Recently Had An Abortion At 32 Weeks Jia Tolentino, Jezebel
This brilliant conversation conducted by Jia Tolentino delivers a powerful glimpse into the mind and motivations of one woman after a recent late-term abortion. Thanks to mostly Republican legislators who use rhetoric that implies women who get late-term abortions are just flippantly changing their mind about pregnancy, late-term abortion continues to be widely misunderstood. In a year when there were a myriad of threats against reproductive rights in America, hearing one woman’s very personal story about a complicated pregnancy provides the kind of context we desperately need more of.
My Father’s House Reggie Ugwu, Buzzfeed
After the death of his brother and the deteriorating health of his father, writer Reggie Ugwu made an important journey of discovery and self-reflection, returning to his ancestral home in Nigeria and helping to take care of his ailing father. Ugwu delves into the Igbo-American identity and experience, capturing the visceral feelings of obligation and grief. On his brother’s death he writes, powerfully: “In the weeks and months after Chidi died, still engulfed in darkness, I felt ready to die, too; by which I mean that losing the person I loved most in the world seemed equivalent to losing the world itself.”
What I Pledge Allegiance To Kiese Laymon, The Fader
In the year that Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem, and Donald Trump threatened jail-time to flag burners, Kiese Laymon wrote about the concept of pledging allegiance to a country that he doesn’t feel is allegiant to him. One of the most powerful sentences: “I pledge to perpetually reckon with the possibility that there will never be any liberty, peace, and justice for all unless we accept that America, like Mississippi, is not clean.”
Now Is The Time To Talk About What We Are Actually Talking About Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The New Yorker
Celebrated as much for her work as a novelist as she is for her work as an outspoken feminist and activist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie unsurprisingly had one of the best post-election responses this year. Her reaction: in the wake of Trump’s election, we must become even more determined to fight bigotry, rather than to bend in order to accommodate and coddle racist ideology. “Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism,” Adichie writes. “It allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility.”
Roxane Gay is set to write a new Marvel comic book in the World of Wakanda, which delves into the lives of the women of the Black Panther comic book series universe. It will be released in November, the New York Times reports.
The Purdue College professor and “Bad Feminist” scribe will team up with writer Ta-Nehisi Coates who has written his Black Panther series set in the fictional African nation.
Complex reports that the new series will involve several black women as writers and illustrators in addition to Gay. Alitha Martinez is the illustrator, and Yona Harvey and Afua Richardson will co-write and illustrate, respectively, a special “backup” story that will appear in the series’ debut issue.
Gay’s story will feature two members of Black Panther’s all-female security team—Ayo and Aneka—who fall in love. Harvey’s first story will revolve around Zenzi, a female revolutionary introduced in the first issue of Coates’ Black Panther series. “It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever done, and I mean that in the best possible way,” said Gay to the Times.
Coates recruited both writers because he thought it important to have a woman’s perspective. “The women in Black Panther’s life are very, very important,” he said.
Add “Black Panther” to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ list of best-selling titles.
The culture critic and “The Atlantic” journalist’s first foray into comic books was not only the top-selling comic last month, but according to Vulture, it’s the top-selling comic of 2016 so far.
Less than a year after the success of his memoir, “Between the World and Me,” the first issue of Coates’ reboot of the classic Marvel character’s story tops the list with 253,259 orders from North American retailers. While that number doesn’t account for actual sales (or orders from oustide the continent), Vulture notes that it “is the only industry statistic available and it’s generally a good indicator of interest in a comic.” The closest runner-up, the inaugural issue of Marvel’s “Star Wars: Poe Dameron,” received just 175,322 orders.