So far I haven’t talked to anyone who went to hear Coates and regretted it. He was intelligent, witty, and direct. He said “Race is the child of racism, not the other way around” and went on to discuss how race-making happens as a product of discrimination. His talk was on the day Donald signed the Muslim ban executive order, and so I went, in part, desperate for some leadership and advice. Coates talked about his fears around what was happening to the Muslim community, and how the new administration’s policies are not “unAmerican” because America was founded on and by racism.
My favorite part was probably this: The event was held in the semi-new MacArthur Court Arena. U of O President Michael Shill came out to introduce Coates and promote all the great athletics at the U of O (“I haven’t seen this court so full since the last game!”). When Ta-Nehisi came on stage he started right off the bat talking about how college athletics in this country are based off exploitation of black bodies. “Just something to think about,” he said.