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Cheat sheet:
Ta-Nehisi Coates

Essential writing and interviews from the voice behind one of Black Panther's most critical story arcs

Justin Tam
Sydney Opera House

As national correspondent for The Atlantic, former writer for Marvel’s Black Panther comics and essayist for the Washington Post, New York Times and Village Voice, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ words and musings have travelled far—from the politics of kneeling during an NFL anthem to the white supremacy of Kanye.

This year he’s here in Australia for ANTIDOTE, and we’ve put together a collection of some of his best interviews and prose for you to brush up on before the festival.

He called Trump the first true "white president"

The AtlanticThe Intercept (October 2017)

In a one-on-one conversation with The Intercept podcast’s Jeremy Scahill, Coates unpacks his theory of Trump and oppressive white power, the conservative streak in Obama’s policy making, and challenges to what extent an American president can actually enact change.

‘But I think [reparations is] this generation’s work. I mean if we get, by the end of my lifetime, for people to say, “Yeah, you know, we really screwed you all.” I mean that would be serious, serious progress.’

Collage of Ta-Nehisi Coates and illustration from his book 'We Were Eight Years In Power'. Image: Gabriella Demczuk / The Intercept

Becoming a father changed his life (and his writing)

Topic Magazine (June 2018)

The writer discusses being a college dropout, his father, and how becoming a father himself changed his attitude on life and writing, accompanied by sublime animated figurines of Coates and his son.

‘It put my butt in a seat and ultimately contributed to my blossoming as a writer.... It also raised the stakes...it just required me to be a good person.'

Animation of Ta-Nehisi Coates and his son for Topic Magazine. Image: Lyndon J. Barrois

He was straight up about Obama

The Atlantic (January/February 2017)

An essential essay, opening with Obama’s all-star farewell party, his White House visits, and the many sides of blackness that the then-POTUS straddled during his presidency.

‘I still want Obama to be right. I still would like to fold myself into the dream. This will not be possible.’

A 5-year-old boy pats Obama's hair in 2009. Photo: Pete Souza / White House

He called out Kanye

The Atlantic (May 2018)

After Kanye West’s explosive appearance on TMZ, Coates steps back to see what Kanye West means in the age of Trump, a mourning about the chasm the rapper has put between his new-found “white freedom” and his black roots. The piece is accompanied by a powerful illustration by Glenn Harvey.

‘It is often easier to choose the path of self-destruction when you don’t consider who you are taking along for the ride.’

Illustration from Coates' article 'I'm Not Black, I'm Kanye' in The Atlantic. Image: Glenn Harvey

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