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Readers respond to Ta-Nehisi Coates’s analysis of Obama’s legacy and more.
Source: Ian Allen

My President Was Black

For the January/February cover story, Ta‑Nehisi Coates interviewed Barack Obama and analyzed his legacy as America’s first black president. “This is the best postmortem on the Obama presidency I’ve yet seen,” Cory Doctorow wrote at Boing Boing, “the cornerstone of the literature that will be written about the previous eight years.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates compellingly details the inexcusable, racially charged rhetoric with which many Americans have described our first black president. It pains me to consider the racial tension that festers within our country.

At what point, though, do reports like this widen the racial rifts by describing Americans’ views with too broad a brush? After all, Coates fails to mention that the white-supremacist-tinged language and extreme anti-Obama vitriol documented in his article come from the fringes of our society and do not represent the views of most Americans. Surely the number of people who would gleefully chuckle at things like “Obama Bucks” and “Obama Waffles” is terribly small (not to mention the fact that some individuals cited in the article have apologized for their own remarks).

We should not dismiss the uncomfortable picture Coates paints; yes, our country’s racial divides run deep, and the hurtful reactions to Obama’s presidency underscore that. But we should remember—and take solace in the fact—that the many inflammatory words and racist acts Coates describes certainly do not represent the majority of white people, the majority of conservatives, or the majority of Americans.

Garrett Haley

I know the battle surrounding race

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