Ta-Nehisi Coates

Jourdan-Ashle Barnes, Reporter

Recently, New York Times bestselling author Ta-Nehisi Coates gave a lecture at Iowa State. The Great Hall was packed with students and adults eager to listen and participate in Coates’ discussion about race. Many Ames High English students have been reading and analyzing Coates’ books Between the World and Me and The Beautiful Struggle. Coates’ consistently writes about social and political issues in the United States.

Coates’ speaking to a crowd at Iowa State University

During his talk, Coates argued that “race is the child of racism”. He claimed that in order for racism to exist long-term, it was necessary for race to be created. It is well known that race is a social construct, however, most people believe that racism succeeded race. Coates’ addressed the recent ban on seven Muslim-majority countries put in place by the 45th President of the United States. The growing hatred and fear towards the Muslim community have lead to U.S. citizens requesting to have an Arab-American category on the 2020 census. This is a perfect example of Coates’ claim. Prejudice and bigotry have lead a group of citizens to create something they can identify with and have a safe space within.

Ta-Nehisi also spoke on the importance of elections. The act of voting alone is important but making an informed decision is equally as important. He discussed how he openly criticized Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during the election. In the primaries he cast his vote for Bernie Sanders, however, after Clinton and Trump received their respective nominations, he took time to evaluate his options. Donald Trump had run a campaign fueled by fear and the giant lie that is racism. Which made way for Hillary Clinton to be seen as the lesser of two evils in the eyes of Ta-Nehisi. While he voted for Hillary, he knew it to be critically important that he did not let her faults slide under the rug. Ta-Nehisi was well aware of Hillary’s comments referring to black youth as “super-predators” and her husband’s Crime Bill which was detrimental to the black community. Despite this, Coates’ believed that Clinton was the more qualified, emotionally stable candidate, that would not divide the country with hate and exacerbate the ever-present problem of racism. He emphasized that it is important to evaluate your public leaders and to hold them accountable. However, there comes a time when you have to vote for people that you may not personally like but will bring the greatest good.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is very well spoken and highly intelligent black man. Coates’ refers to racism as a giant built on a lie that people believe and begin to internalize, when there is simply no factual evidence to support white supremacy. This lie has shaped his entire life and his work. Many have compared him to James Baldwin for his critical analysis of race in America. It was very special for Iowa State to host him as a lecturer. His discussion was thought provoking and hopefully aroused the minds of many young people about the future of our world.