Ta-Nehisi Coates Conversation Reflection: Things I wish I had said

Something I found interesting was that in one of the essays, Coates talked about the gun laws and how Obama tried to change the laws, however, he was constantly blocked by others. This portrays the fact that he was, in fact, suppressed, despite him being president, and this was most likely due his race.

I am from Australia, where the majority of the population is caucasian, however, the history of Australia also relates to some of the racial issues in the US. Australia was originally used as a place to hold British convicts, and the British essentially claimed the land as their own despite Aboriginals already living there. Colonial violence killed thousands of the indigenous people living in Australia causing these tribes to become excluded from the British. Now, there is still a lot of prejudice against the Aboriginals, as they are seen as uneducated or uncivilised, so I think if there were to be an Aboriginal prime minister in the future, people would put a lot of pressure on them because they would need to overcome society’s expectations, just like the first black president had to.

I think that since Obama was the first black president of the United States, a lot of people had the impression that he would be the representative of the black race for the country. However, Coates had a fair point in acknowledging the fact that Obama was not just the president of a single race, but of a multi-racial country, which put a lot more pressure on him since a black president was long awaited and expectations were high for him with the African Americans, since there had never been anyone representing them before.

Personally, I agree with the perception Coates has on racism in the USA. An interesting point he had was that, since people had been waiting so long for a black president, Obama had to be ‘twice as good and half as black’. For example, if Obama had had rumours surrounding him to do with engaging in affairs like Bill Clinton, it would have had a very different effect on the election simply because of his race. The idea that he had to be ‘twice as good’ is showing the truth in that people needed him to be a great president, more than others, because plenty of people would be putting prejudice on him and comparing him to other white presidents, so if he was worse, that would increase the negative view of blacks some people would have still had during his presidency.

I think some of the differences between Coates, Stockett, and Parks, is that they have different aims. Contextually, Parks did most of his work from the 1940s to the 70s, which was a time period where segregation was very prominent. This meant his aims were generally to shine a light on the treatment of blacks and what life was like for them at the present moment. Stockett and Coates published their work at roughly the same time and year, however, I think Stockett maybe had the intentions of providing entertainment as well as what happened in the past, since many other parts were added to the plot of “The Help”, for example Skeeter’s love life, which is not related to the issue of race, or not entirely. Coates published his work following the actual events of Obama’s presidency, so his worked is aimed at providing his insight into what was actually going on in the present day as opposed to his view or recollection of what happened in the past. Parks, similar to Coates, also published his work portraying the situation at the time rather than before, however, since during those years blacks were still heavily oppressed, he had to take photos with underlying meanings to get the message out, whilst Coates was able to clearly state his opinion.


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