Hey Ta-Nehisi Coates, Barack Obama is No Paul Ryan
It is alarming, the increasing venom with which Atlantic Magazine’s ONLY black writer Ta-Nehisi Coates (TNC) has attacked President Obama (e.g. here, here, here and here) over what he calls the President’s embrace of the discourse of Black pathologies. He accused the President of being no different than Paul Ryan who made the offensive comments about “lazy inner city males.” In a nutshell, TNC’s beef is that whenever President Obama speaks to black audiences he resorts to admonitions about moral behavior instead of attacking the structural obstacles that White Supremacy has placed on black people since this country’s founding.
“Paul Ryan’s explanation for urban poverty isn’t much different from Barack Obama’s. Why did it make liberals so angry?”
He argues as head of the very government that has throughout its history, overseen the institutionalization of racist policies and physical harm to African Americans to this date, President Obama, as a black man, has even greater responsibility not to patronize and blame the victims of said policies. In a series of exchanges with Jonathan Chait (follow up rebuttal here) about his accusations against President Obama, TNC details the long history and examples of how White Supremacist ideology is not incidental to, but the very structuring principle of this country – from the well-known creation of American wealth out of black slave labor, to the denial of civil rights to black people, the redlining domicile and housing practices, social security limitations, and exclusion from the GI bill that shut them out of the budding Middle Class boom and wealth accumulation of the mid-20th century, to current freighting of criminalized black bodies through the profit-making prison industrial complex, and worse.
History all true. And it is good for Coates to “blacksplain” it to his readers, many of whom commented that he had “opened their eyes.” But none of this history is news to any conscientious social justice activist, black, white, or brown. It certainly is no news to Professor Barack Obama who taught courses on race relations, civil rights, and the mechanics of POWER contests: