DYSPEPSIA GENERATION

We have seen the future, and it sucks.

How Ta-Nehisi Coates Gives Whiteness Power

7th October 2017

Read it.

In the study of German history, there is the notion of sonderweg, literally the “special path,” down which the German people are fated to wander. In different eras, and depending on who employed it, the term could imply different things. It began as a positive myth during the imperial period that some German scholars told themselves about their political system and culture. During and after World War II it turned distinctly negative, a way for outsiders to make sense of the singularity of Germany’s crimes.

A similar unifying theory has been taking hold in America. Its roots lie in the national triple sin of slavery, land theft and genocide. In this view, the conditions at the core of the country’s founding don’t just reverberate through the ages — they determine the present. No matter what we might hope, that original sin — white supremacy — explains everything, an all-American sonderweg.

No one today has done more to push this theory in the mainstream than the 42-year-old author Ta-Nehisi Coates. Anyone interested in the durability of racism in American life is probably still discussing his breakout 2015 memoir “Between the World and Me,” a moving and despairing letter to his then-15-year-old son that warned: “You have been cast into a race in which the wind is always at your face and the hounds are always at your heels … The plunder of black life was drilled into this country in its infancy and reinforced across its history, so that plunder has become an heirloom, an intelligence, a sentience, a default setting to which, likely to the end of our days, we must invariably return.” The book won Mr. Coates millions of readers and fans, many of whom are white.

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