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Top 400 Ta-Nehisi Coates Quotes (2024 Update)
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Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “I was young and love to me was a fuse that was lit, not a garden that was grown. Love was not concerned with any deep knowledge of its object, of their wants and dreams, but mainly with the joy felt in their presence and the sickness felt in their departure.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “What I want you to know is that this is not your fault, even if it is ultimately your responsibility.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “I wanted you to have your own life, apart from fear – even apart from me. I am wounded. I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “And I saw that what divided me from the world was not anything intrinsic to us but the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named us matters more than anything we could ever actually do. In America, the injury is not in being born with darker skin, with fuller lips, with a broader nose, but in everything that happens after.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “There are people whom we do not fully know, and yet they live in a warm place within us, and when they are plundered, when they lose their bodies and the dark energy disperses, that place becomes a wound.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “I have searched for answers in nationalist myth, in classrooms, out on the streets, and on other continents. The question is unanswerable, which is not to say futile. The greatest reward of this constant interrogation, of confrontation with the brutality of my country, is that it has freed me from ghosts and girded me against the sheer terror of disembodiment.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Tolstoy is the Tolstoy of the Zulus,′ wrote Wiley. ‘Unless you find a profit in fencing off universal properties of mankind into exclusive tribal ownership.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “And godless though I am, the fact of being human, the fact of possessing the gift of study, and thus being remarkable among all the matter floating through the cosmos, still awes me.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “The point of this language of “intention” and “personal responsibility” is broad exoneration. Mistakes were made. Bodies were broken. People were enslaved. We meant well. We tried our best. “Good intention” is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “I was a curious boy, but the schools were not concerned with curiosity. They were concerned with compliance. I loved a few of my teachers. But I cannot say that I truly believed any of them.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “It began to strike me that the point of my education was a kind of discomfort, was the process that would not award me my own especial Dream but would break all the dreams, all the comforting myths of Africa, of America, and everywhere, and would leave me only with humanity in all its terribleness. And there was so much terrible out there, even among us. You must understand this.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “I was a curious boy, but the schools were not concerned with curiosity. They were concerned with compliance.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “To prevent enabling oppression, we demand that black people be twice as good. To prevent verifying stereotypes, we pledge to never eat a slice a watermelon in front of white people.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “The truth is that the police reflect America in all of its will and fear, and whatever we might make of this country’s criminal justice policy, it cannot be said that it was imposed by a repressive minority.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Americans deify democracy in a way that allows for a dim awareness that they have, from time to time, stood in defiance of their God. But democracy is a forgiving God and America’s heresies – torture, theft, enslavement – are so common among individuals and nations that none can declare themselves immune.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “This power, this black power, originates in a view of the American galaxy taken from a dark and essential planet. Black power is the dungeon-side view of Monticello – which is to say, the view taken in struggle. And black power births a kind of understanding that illuminates all the galaxies in their truest colors.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “The essence of American racism is disrespect.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “But you are a black boy, and you must be responsible for your body in a way that other boys cannot know. Indeed, you must be responsible for the worst actions of other black bodies, which, somehow, will always be assigned to you.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “And still I urge you to struggle. Struggle for the memory of your ancestors. Struggle for wisdom. Struggle for the warmth of The Mecca. Struggle for your grandmother and grandfather, for your name. But do not struggle for the Dreamers. Hope for them. Pray for them, if you are so moved. But do not pin your struggle on their conversion. The Dreamers will have to learn to struggle themselves, to understand that the field for their Dream, the stage where they have painted themselves white, is the deathbed of us all.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “I remember being amazed that death could so easily rise up from the nothing of a boyish afternoon, billow up like fog.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “The problem with the police is not that they are fascist pigs but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “The writer, and that was what I was becoming, must be wary of every Dream and every nation, even his own nation. Perhaps his own nation more than any other, precisely because it was his own.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “I grew up in a house drawn between love and fear. There was no room for softness. But this girl with the long dreads revealed something else – that love could be soft and understanding; that, soft or hard, love was an act of heroism.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “There is no them without you, and without the right to break you they must necessarily fall from the mountain, lose their divinity, and tumble out of the Dream. And then they would have to determine how to build their suburbs on something other than human bones, how to angle their jails toward something other than a human stockyard, how to erect a democracy independent of cannibalism. But.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “It is truly horrible to understand yourself as the essential below of your country. It breaks too much of what we would like to think about ourselves, our lives, the world we move through and the people who surround us. The struggle to understand is our only advantage over this madness.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “The Dream thrives on generalization, on limiting the number of possible questions, on privileging immediate answers.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “To yell “black-on-black crime” is to shoot a man and then shame him for bleeding.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “My mother and father were always pushing me away from secondhand answers – even the answers they themselves believed. I don’t know that I have ever found any satisfactory answers of my own. But every time I ask it, the question is refined. That is the best of what the old heads meant when they spoke of being “politically conscious” – as much a series of actions as a state of being, a constant questioning, questioning as ritual, questioning as exploration rather than the search for certainty.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “I came to see the streets and the schools as the arms of the same beast. One enjoyed the official power of the state while the other enjoyed its implicit sanction. But fear and violence were the weaponry of both.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “You cannot forget how much they took from us and how they transfigured our very bodies into sugar, tobacco, cotton, and gold.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “I believed, and still do, that our bodies are our selves, that my soul is the voltage conducted through neurons and nerves, and that my spirit is my flesh.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Specifically, the host wished to know why I felt that white America’s progress, or rather the progress of those Americans who believe that they are white, was built on looting and violence. Hearing this, I felt an old and indistinct sadness well up in me. The answer to this question is the record of the believers themselves. The answer is American history.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world. –.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Then the mother of the murdered boy rose, turned to you, and said, “You exist. You matter. You have value. You have every right to wear your hoodie, to play your music as loud as you want. You have every right to be you. And no one should deter you from being you. You have to be you. And you can never be afraid to be you.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “All my life I’d heard people tell their black boys and black girls to “be twice as good,” which is to say “accept half as much.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “We are all our beautiful bodies and so must never be prostrate before barbarians, must never submit our original self, our one of one, to defiling and plunder.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Unfit for the schools, and in good measure wanting to be unfit for them, and lacking the savvy I needed to master the streets, I felt there could be no escape for me or, honestly, anyone else. The fearless boys and girls who would knuckle up, call on cousins and crews, and if it came to it, pull guns seemed to have mastered the streets. But their knowledge peaked at seventeen, when they ventured out of their parents’ homes and discovered that America had guns and cousins, too.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “I don’t ever want to forget that resistance must be its own reward, since resistance, at least within the life span of the resistors, almost always fails.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “You must resist the common urge toward the comforting narrative of divine law, toward fairy tales that imply some irrepressible justice. The enslaved were not bricks in your road, and their lives were not chapters in your redemptive history. They were people turned to fuel for the American machine. Enslavement was not destined to end, and it is wrong to claim our present circumstance – no matter how improved – as the redemption for the lives of people who never asked for the posthumous, untouchable glory of dying for their children. Our triumphs can never compensate for this.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “I kept thinking about how southern Manhattan had always been Ground Zero for us. They auctioned our bodies down there, in that same devastated, and rightly named, financial district. And there was once a burial ground for the auctioned there. They built a department store over part of it and then tried to erect a government building over another part.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “It must have been around that time that I discovered an essay by Ralph Wiley in which he responded to Bellow’s quip. “Tolstoy is the Tolstoy of the Zulus,” wrote Wiley. “Unless you find a profit in fencing off universal properties of mankind into exclusive tribal ownership.” And there it was. I had accepted Bellow’s premise.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “In accepting both the chaos of history and the fact of my total end, I was freed to truly consider how I wished to live – specifically, how do I live free in this black body?”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “For Americans, the hardest part of paying reparations would not be the outlay of money. It would be acknowledging that their most cherished myth was not real.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “But we must tell our stories, and not be ensnared by them.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “The masters could not bring water to boil, harness to horse or strap their own drawers without us. We were better than them. We had to be. Sloth was literal death for us, while for them it was the whole ambition of their lives.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “Americans deify democracy in a way that allows for a dim awareness that they have, from time to time, stood in defiance of their God.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “It’s a cruel thing to do to children, to raise them as though they are siblings, and then set them against each other so that one shall be queen and the other shall be a footstool.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “I am ashamed of how I acted that day, ashamed of endangering your body. But I am not ashamed because I am a bad father, a bad individual or ill mannered. I am ashamed that I made an error, knowing that our errors always cost us more.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “You still believe the injustice was Michael Brown. You have not yet grappled with your own myths and narratives and discovered the plunder everywhere around us.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates Quote: “But her beauty and stillness broke the balance in me. In my small apartment, she kissed me, and the ground opened up, swallowed me, buried me right there in that moment. How many awful poems did I write thinking of her? I know now what she was to me – the first glimpse of a space-bridge, a wormhole, a galactic portal off this bound and blind planet. She had seen other worlds, and she held the lineage of other worlds, spectacularly, in the vessel of her black body.”
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