Why is it that I find it so hard to sit down and write a book review on a novel that was so amazing that it left a mark on my soul?! I think it’s because I’m almost speechless. There are no amount of words that can describe a feeling correctly. There are no amount of words to describe a gratitude for an author so knowledgable and so authentic. And there is certainly no way to measure the gratitude you feel towards an author who presents an argument about race that is so damn eloquent and universal. There are NO excuses why everyone, of any race, cannot agree upon the tragic history of race in America and that we need to do better. Now, there are arguments on how to do better— what ways are most effective, which ways we need to avoid, etc. But the overarching theme should be able to ring true to any moral person. I wholeheartedly believe this. That being said…
Wow. We Were Eight Years In Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates is spectacular. This MAN is spectacular!! This is, unfortunately, the first time I’ve encountered his work, but since I’ve been watching some television interviews and man…this guy is GIFTED. Let’s step back a moment though. What is We Were Eight Years In Power about? Good question, before I go off on my tangent.
The title refers to the fact that for the past eight years, President Obama, a black man, was the president. At the time, people thought that America had finally transcended race. We finally elected a black man as our president. Things are better. Fast forward those eight years, and as Ta-Nehisi Coates calls Trump, we have our first “white” president. This basically means that Trump’s whole campaign revolved around a black president. Coates draws a general path for us to how we went from one extreme, to the other. Coates included mentions of Trump’s incessant accusations about Obama’s “birtherism”, and how Trump’s campaign was targeted around hateful/fearful rhetoric.
This novel is comprised of a collection of eight essays that Coates wrote for every year President Obama was in power. What precedes every chapter is “notes” on Coates current thoughts and critiques about his essay, and other current events that relate to the essay.
To give you an idea about what some of the essays include, I will highlight a few. “This Is How We Lost to the White Man” is an extremely interesting essay that actually focuses around Bill Cosby’s controversial black activism. In today’s culture, we hear more about Cosby’s sexual allegations than his preaching, so this is particularly interesting to reflect on. Another chapter that I found extremely interesting was “The Case For Reparations”, where Coates describes the present day consequences of slavery, and how we as a country may go about reparations. I have always been aware of the debate for reparations, but rarely had an idea of how reparations can feasibly come about. This chapter really expanded my knowledge on this topic, and for that, I am extremely thankful.
I cannot stress enough how INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT this book is. Not only to America, but to the whole damn world. Coates is not only a fantastic writer (he really, really is gifted), but he is so knowledgable about these issues. The issue of race is so important in today’s social and political climate. If everyone were just a *tad* more knowledgable about race, the world would truly be a better place. That’s why I urge you to get a copy of this book. Read it with an open mind. Read it, and be hopeful for change and a better tomorrow. Act on a better tomorrow. BE a better version of yourself tomorrow. We sure need it.
Rating: 5/5 (my first perfect rating!)