Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic — the man many consider the new-fangled James Baldwin — is quite angry with Kanye West. In fact, he’s so angry with Kanye West that he has now officially declared that West is no longer a black person. West, you see, disagrees with Coates on politics. What’s worse, West doesn’t know things, the kinds of things Ta-Nehisi Coates thinks are important for him to know, which shows that he is disengaged from his skin color.
For a guy who writes endlessly about “black bodies,” it sure would be nice if Ta-Nehisi Coates saw Kanye West as more than one.
Coates begins his 5,000-word essay with an ode to early Michael Jackson:
Michael Jackson was God, but not just God in scope and power, though there was certainly that, but God in his great mystery; God in how a child would hear tell of him, God in how he lived among the legend and lore; God because the Walkman was still uncommon, and I was young and could not count on the car radio, because my parents lived between NPR and WTOP. So the legends were all I had—tales of remarkable feats and fantastic deeds: Michael Jackson mediated gang wars; Michael Jackson was the zombie king; Michael Jackson tapped his foot and stones turned to light. Even his accouterment felt beyond me—the studded jacket, the sparkling glove, the leather pants—raiment of the divine, untouchable by me, a mortal child who squinted to see past Saturday, who would not even see Motown 25 until it was past 30, who would not even own a copy of Thriller until I was a grown man, who no longer believed in miracles, and knew in my heart that if the black man’s God was not dead, he surely was dying. And he had always been dying—dying to be white.