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Making Peace With the Chaos: An Interview With Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates is running late. As a national correspondent for The Atlantic and author of the new book, Between the World and Me, everyone, it seems, wants a word with the 39-year-old Baltimore native these days. His book—which Toni Morrison christened “required reading” and which the New York Times hailed a… » 7/15/15 1:38pm 7/15/15 1:38pm

Freedom Song: A Conversation About the State of Black Liberation Music

In the lyric pamphlet to Black Messiah, D'Angelo's third album after 14 years away from the spotlight, the soul-savant explains his reasoning behind its title and sudden release: "Some will jump to the conclusion that I am calling myself a Black Messiah," he begins. "For me the title is about all of us...It's about… » 3/25/15 5:25pm 3/25/15 5:25pm

The Great Internet Debate Over Not Reading White Men

Hello, dear reader, and welcome to The Kerfuffler! I'm your host, fantasy writer, essayist, and mad tweeter, Saladin Ahmed. Every other week I'll be looking at America's seemingly endless culture wars playing out online, tracing their fault lines, and wading hip-deep into comment sections so you don't have to. » 3/11/15 3:11pm 3/11/15 3:11pm

What Is the Purpose of Black History Month? A Roundtable

In 1976, when Black History Month was officially acknowledged by the U.S. government, President Gerald Ford gave a (very brief) speech. "In celebrating Black History Month, we can take satisfaction from this recent progress in the realization of the ideals envisioned by our Founding Fathers.," Ford said. "But, even… » 2/25/15 3:21pm 2/25/15 3:21pm

How to Talk About Race with Your Kids

It'd be wonderful if you could just say to children, "People might look different and come from different places, but we're all equal and should be treated the same" and leave it at that. But if recent news has taught us anything, it's that reality is not so simple, and we need to face the topics of race and racism… » 1/25/15 2:07pm 1/25/15 2:07pm

My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK

The fourth time a Poughkeepsie police officer told me that my Vassar College Faculty ID could make everything OK was three years ago. I was driving down Wilbur Avenue. When the white police officer, whose head was way too small for his neck, asked if my truck was stolen, I laughed, said no, and shamefully showed him… » 11/29/14 5:47pm 11/29/14 5:47pm

The Fight: Patterson Vs. Liston

Originally published in the February 1963 issue of Nugget, "The Fight: Patterson vs. Liston" also appears in At the Fights: American Writers on Boxing, edited by George Kimball and John Schulian and published in hardcover, paperback, and as an e-book by The Library of America. You can also find it in the recent… » 10/23/14 10:10am 10/23/14 10:10am

Take Me to Sanborns: Swiss Enchiladas and Race in Mexico City

In the first chapter of D.H. Lawrence's late novel, The Plumed Serpent, an Irishwoman named Kate has a terrible experience at a Mexico City bullfight. The book is set during the Mexican revolution. Kate is overwhelmed by the sights and sounds in the arena and by the murderous event itself. Afterward, she tells a… » 6/23/14 2:07pm 6/23/14 2:07pm

Do NBA Teams With Whiter Fan Bases Have Whiter Rosters?

In the NBA of yesterday, an owner could be explicit about structuring his roster around the race of the players. "No team should be all white and no team should be all black, either," Cavs owner and legendary boob Ted Stepien told a reporter in 1980. And why not? "Blacks don't buy many tickets," he went on, "and they… » 6/12/14 3:44pm 6/12/14 3:44pm

What ESPN And The NFL Don't Talk About When They Talk About "Nigger"

Last week, we got word that the Fritz Pollard Alliance, chaired by ex-NFL player John Wooten, was pushing a rule change in the league that would penalize players for the use of the word "nigger" on the football field. The proposal involves a 15-yard penalty for a player's first offense, with an ejection if he says it… » 2/25/14 6:09pm 2/25/14 6:09pm