A first and obvious observation. Coates is a joy to read. He reminds me of a boxer at the height of his skill and powers...one who is only getting better at his craft. Coates will inevitably be moving on to other things sooner rather than later. We should enjoy watching him work in this public way for as long as possible.
And previewing some of my later thoughts, I worry that The Case for Reparations" will be one of the many things that "smart" and "informed" people claim to have read, but in reality they only skimmed it or gleamed some second hand knowledge--badly processed--from some other person.
Of course, that is not Coates' fault; it is the price of well-earned popularity and the anchor that comes with being a "must read". However, when casual intellectual tourists and drive-by historians discover information that has long been known and understood by inside experts with proper training, a tedious tug of war between the camps can often ensue. I just hope that Coates' very smart and synthetic (in a good way) examination of the lived history that is reparations for Black Americans is a beginning and not an end for how his readers grapple with the issue.
What are your thoughts on Coates' new essay?
Can you recall a recent time when an African-American writer and essayist received this much attention?
Finally, how do we locate Coates within a larger trajectory of American writing on race, class, and the other issues he attempts to grapple with at The Atlantic?