Review: Ta-Nehisi Coates “We Were Eight Years in Power – An American Tragedy”


Ta-Nehisi Coates “We Were Eight Years in Power – An American Tragedy” is a must read for those who desire to stay informed in our current environment.

CLICK PHOTO ABOVE TO VIEW ENTIRE VIDEO.  (L-R), Ta-Nehisi Coates, author and national correspondent for The Atlantic, and moderator Michele Norris, freelance journalist and author, participate in The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, DC hosted “A Conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates: We Were Eight Years in Power”, on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto)

We Were Eight Years in Power” showcases Coates’ voice who is a Gen X’r but offers credible perspectives as seen through the African-American lens, or at least from those such as his. The book weaves eight essays and demonstrates a new thought of how our world is changing. The notion of Barack Obama running for president, let alone thinking he could get elected seemed like a lark, if not an impossible reality to so many. Yet, people like Coates and later generations such as millennial’s write with pride as Obama defied the odds to become President and successfully completed two terms. Starting as a Blogger, Coates joined the team at the Atlantic and in a short period has taken off.

The content of the book takes you on a journey of historic reality. Some may be troubled from how Coates portrays racism and how it has shaped our culture. He admits there has been progress but while so many dismiss the gains as we are “so better off,” his point is to remind you of the vestiges created from the notion of using race as a benchmark.

Regardless of whether you agree with some of Coates perspectives or not, the book is chalk-full of personal examples and other documented facts which allow you to better appreciate his writing style. He is unapologetic and reminds you how African-American’s have risen to tremendous levels of success, despite the barriers of how life is conducted in the United States.

Through his credibility as a journalist/writer he was given the opportunity to be in the company of Barack Obama. The first meeting morphed into a relationship where then president Obama invited him to the White House for more robust discussion centered around race and progress. Coates writes how much he treasured the invite and subsequent relationship.

The chapter “My President is Black” came from an essay which received international acclaim. Despite your feelings of Barack Obama, Coates allows you to better understand the rise and how he and first lady Michelle took the notion of being the first African-American president with pride and conducted themselves impeccably.

As this review is being written, Coates is concluding his book tour. Also, the recent elections of November 7, 2017 which brought a solid rebuke to Donald Trump, his politics and the rhetoric he spews is a point Coates makes, still in disbelief the voting public elected him as the 45th president is very interesting. The book references this point with a unique twist. Coates brings it home by helping the reader understand the dilemma and pressures Obama had to contend while, while Trump with just the reality of being a “white man” desiring to be president never had to deal with the continuousness. His primary issue was brought on by his own actions, not from systemic racism.

Coates admits not trying to be a “voice” for people or causes, but through his writing and how he has penned this book you quickly are thought to elevate him to a credible voice, which will be prominent for years to come.

The book which is a tad under 400 pages is a quick read. The good news is each chapter is its own separate essay and does a very good job of referencing how Coates saw things during the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency. It is a worthy investment for your library, especially if part of your frequent communication is on politics and race, and you truly desire a different perspective.

The movie MARSHALL: My review


[Los Angeles, CA] The movie “Marshall” is set for release this weekend.  I was fortunate to be in attendance with some of my BPG (Black Professional Group) colleagues as they hosted an advance screening Wednesday, October 11th.

 

The life of Thurgood Marshall has been chronicled in the annals of contemporary history.  However as iconic as his legal career was and his subsequent place as a justice on the Supreme Court, there is much about him the public does not know.   The two most recent books of his life do a good job in presenting his career; Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary written by Juan Williams (2000) and Showdown, written by Wil Haygood (2015).

 

Marshall” the movie does a good job of showcasing his brilliance of our legal system.  It is not a documentary but more of a bio-pic.  Therefore, it does take creative license in presenting a very entertaining movie.  Certain scenes take me back to “Native Son” as race and sex are center stage.  You have a black chauffeur accused of raping a white woman, whom he worked for.  We have seen this plot before.  As a young attorney Marshall was part of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund so he was summoned to represent the chauffeur who claimed to be falsely accused.

bi·o·pic
ˈbīōˌpik/

noun

informal
noun: biopic; plural noun: biopics; noun: bio-pic; plural noun: bio-pics
  1. a biographical movie.

 

Through twist and turns of dealing with sheer racism and a system which automatically assumed those accused, especially if they were black (African-American) were guilty, Marshall used his gift to motivate and convince the lead attorney they could turn the system to their favor while seeking to exonerate their client.

My grade

If you know about Justice Thurgood Marshall, you will score the film high.  However, if you are not aware of his career or the plight of blacks during that period, you will miss the sensitivities and may provide a lower grade.  My grade comes in at a solid 7, and after some reflection I could see moving it up to an 8 because it covered so much ground.

 

The cast is very contemporary but at the end you are treated to three people who make a cameo appearance which make you appreciate the struggle of working through the legal system in trying to achieve justice.

 

More information.

 

On Tuesday, October 10th the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, DC also had a special screening.  Those in attendance were treated to a post question and answer conducted by Wil Haygood (The Butler) as he interviewed the director, Reginald Hudlin.    There are many poignant comments during the 32-minute session, including how not one U.S. company was willing to fund the project.  The usual excuse of the film not having a broad audience was the reason Hudlin shared.  How many times have we heard that only to see such movies take on worldwide interest?   Hudlin’s work was eventually realized as Chinese investors stepped forward.

Question and Answer with director

Here is the official trailer

Chadwick BosemanJosh GadKate Hudson