Two long reads worth your time

Here are a couple of recent longer essays, both challenging and insightful, that reward the time it may take to read them even if neither is a quick click-through.

I’ve excerpted a bit from both of these below, but neither piece really lends itself to a simple excerpt-summary. The few paragraphs I’ve copied here are meant to entice you to read the rest, not to serve as Cliff-Note substitutes. The latter piece, by Andrew Solomon, deals forthrightly with the subject of rape, so reader discretion is advised.

Ta-Nehisi Coates: “Fear of a Black President”

By virtue of his background — the son of a black man and a white woman, someone who grew up in multiethnic communities around the world — Obama has enjoyed a distinctive vantage point on race relations in America. Beyond that, he has displayed enviable dexterity at navigating between black and white America, and at finding a language that speaks to a critical mass in both communities. He emerged into national view at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, with a speech heralding a nation uncolored by old prejudices and shameful history. There was no talk of the effects of racism. Instead Obama stressed the power of parenting, and condemned those who would say that a black child carrying a book was “acting white.” He cast himself as the child of a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas and asserted, “In no other country on Earth is my story even possible.” When, as a senator, he was asked if the response to Hurricane Katrina evidenced racism, Obama responded by calling the “ineptitude” of the response “color-blind.”

Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others. Black America ever lives under that skeptical eye. Hence the old admonishments to be “twice as good.” Hence the need for a special “talk” administered to black boys about how to be extra careful when relating to the police. And hence Barack Obama’s insisting that there was no racial component to Katrina’s effects; that name-calling among children somehow has the same import as one of the oldest guiding principles of American policy — white supremacy.

The election of an African American to our highest political office was alleged to demonstrate a triumph of integration. But when President Obama addressed the tragedy of Trayvon Martin, he demonstrated integration’s great limitation — that acceptance depends not just on being twice as good but on being half as black. And even then, full acceptance is still withheld. The larger effects of this withholding constrict Obama’s presidential potential in areas affected tangentially — or seemingly not at all — by race. Meanwhile, across the country, the community in which Obama is rooted sees this fraudulent equality, and quietly seethes.

Andrew Solomon: “The Legitimate Children of Rape”

There is a veritable war of statistics about rape and pregnancy, and the confusion is exacerbated by the competing agendas of the pro-choice and anti-abortion movements.

… I have been researching a book, “Far from the Tree,” that deals in part with women raising children conceived in rape, and have therefore met the living reproof to Akin’s remark.

… Rape is, above all other things, non-volitional for the victim, and the first thing to provide a victim is control. Raped women require unfettered choice in this arena: to abort or to carry to term, and, if they do carry to term, to keep the children so conceived or to give them up for adoption. These women, like the parents of disabled children, are choosing the child over the challenging identity attached to that child. The key word in that sentence is “choosing.”

… In working on my book, I went to Rwanda in 2004 to interview women who had borne children of rape conceived during the genocide. At the end of my interviews, I asked interviewees whether they had any questions for me, in hopes that the reversal would help them to feel less disenfranchised in the microcosmic world of our interview. The questions tended to be the same: How long are you spending in the country? How many people are you interviewing? When will your research be published? Who will read these stories? Why are you interested in me? At the end of my final interview, I asked the woman I was interviewing whether she had any questions. She paused shyly for a moment. “Well,” she said, a little hesitantly. “You work in this field of psychology.” I nodded. She took a deep breath. “Can you tell me how to love my daughter more?” she asked. “I want to love her so much, and I try my best, but when I look at her I see what happened to me and it interferes.” A tear rolled down her cheek, but her tone turned almost fierce, challenging. “Can you tell me how to love my daughter more?” she repeated.

Perhaps Todd Akin has an answer for her.

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  • VicissitudeVenery


  • Tricksterson

    I can definitely reccomend the Ta-Nehisi Coates article.

    Semi off topic maybe but wouldn’t the same circumstances Akin uses to rationalize (if anything about his statement could be called rational) the idea the idea that you can’t get pregnant from rape also apply to consensual rough sex or sex involving at least some types of BDSM??  Or does the vagina somwhow magically know whether or not the woman said yes or no?

  • AnonaMiss

    I want to write a letter to the President now telling him I’m sorry for ‘our’ behavior :-.

  • “Can you tell me how to love my daughter more?”

    OK… that got to me.

  • k3n0bl

    “Anti-Racists” say there should be no White Neighbourhoods ✓
    “Anti-Racists” say there should be no White Schools✓
    “Anti-Racists” say there should be no White Anything ✓
    “Anti-Racists” say there should be no White Children

    “Anti-Racists” haven’t told Asian or African children that they must be blended out of existence to “end racism”. They only demand this global program of genocide onto white children.

    Anti-racist is a code word for Anti-White

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m anti-racist and I’m white. Am I supposed to vanish in a puff of logic now?

  • zmayhem

    This creature (or another just like it, spouting the same nonsense) repeated exactly the same thing, word for word, on Coates’s article and is probably only here because it’s tracking any blog post that references Coates’s. Either an out-an-out Stormfronter or a strong sympathizer. Either way, not worth responding to or engaging at all; just flag and move on (and maybe email Fred just to make sure he’s aware and can keep an eye on the commnts — this poster has a toxic history).

  • Tricksterson

    I don’t think logic is something likely to affect him.  At least not our Earth Logic.

  • Read TNC’s article. Honestly? Any strategy that requires black people to continue to be deferential to whites as though validating the white perspective is probably doomed to failure, because Republicans, as we’ve observed, go ape freakin’ shit over the idea of a OMGMOOSLIM President.

    Just look at the way those asshole right-wing commentators had the unutterable nerve to reject what the President’s words meant for the parents of Trayvon Martin.

    Or the way Obama’s administration got rooked by a lying, edited clip and didn’t even have the spine to apologize to the woman they fired.


    And whites who were not afraid of the Obama Administration or Presidency could have done more, too. White people listen more to other white people. Joe Biden has been absolutely fantastic on that front. I can’t think of a time when he’s ever tried to undercut his boss.

  • wendy

    TNC’s article is awesomesauce, but OMG do not read the comments. Really. It will ruin your day. 

  • The_L1985

     Vaginas are magical.

  • The_L1985

     I’m sorry, what?  I can’t tell what you’re trying to say through all the gibberish.

  • Daughter

    IIRC, Obama did call and apologize to Shirley Sherrod. But the damage was already done by that time.

  • Tricksterson

    Well, I’ve always thought they had mind control powers myself.

  •  The least they could have done is rehire her as a Fuck You to all the racists who thought they’d gotten the upper hand.

  • LL

    Yeah, me too (reading it 3 days late). 

  • Carstonio

    The Coates article reminds me of the reaction my grandfather had to a Cosby Show episode. The Huxtables were watching an old clip of MLK’s Dream speech, and he said they had looks in their eyes like “they wanted to kill some whiteys.” Both sad and infuriating.

  • k3n0bl

    You’re either pro-White or anti-White.

    Pro-Whites believe all people should have a home in order to exist.

    Anti-Whites believe White people must be genocided from existence through mass immigration & forced assimilation into ALL & ONLY White countries.

    So which is it?

    You say you are anti-racists, but what you are is anti-White!

    Anti-racist is just a codeword for anti-White.

  • k3n0bl

    we are posting this EVERYWHERE

    we will destroy ANYONE who tries to debate us on the subject

    That’s why you anti-whites will run your mouth but curl in a ball when it comes to trying to defend why you want to force white children into global genocide

  • zmayhem

    Yawn. Troll is trolly.

  • EllieMurasaki

    1) Nobody who meets your definition of “anti-White” exists. You define “anti-racist” as synonymous with your definition of “anti-White”. By your definitions, therefore, no anti-racists exist. Which means that everyone is racist and that everyone wants to stay racist.

    While I can accept that everybody is racist (I know damn well that I have absorbed my culture’s attitudes toward people of varying skin colors; I keep going ‘oh, okay’ when finding out that someone I knew of is a person of color but I do not react at all to finding out that someone I knew of is white, which proves I am not done decolonializing my brain), somehow I don’t think a sophisticated understanding of the kyriarchy has anything to do with what you meant.

    2) You are accusing me of wanting to kill my sisters, my cousins, the sweet little kids my sister teaches at Sunday school, the sweet little babies my mom babysits Sunday mornings so their parents can teach at Sunday school.

    You are extraordinarily fucking lucky that no one’s invented a way to kill over the Internet, you racist fuckwit.

  • k3n0bl

    “Anti-Racists” say there should be no White Neighbourhoods ✓
    “Anti-Racists” say there should be no White Schools✓
    “Anti-Racists” say there should be no White Anything ✓
    “Anti-Racists” say there should be no White Children
    Are you proud of singling out the children of your own race for destruction?  Good Zombiieeee.  OH SHUX… IM ALL OUT OF ZOMBIE TREATS!