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Ta-Nehisi Coates Quotes Providing Insight on Race and Culture

Our latest collection of Ta-Nehisi Coates quotes on Everyday Power.

Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates is an American author, journalist and writer. He is best known for his writing in The Atlantic, and for his book Between the World and Me, which covers the contemporary issues facing the black community. He is also the author of The Beautiful Struggle and We Were Eight Years in Power.

Coates’ articles regarding such topics as cultural, social and political issues, have been featured in publications like Time, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. His works focus on important issues in American society such as racial identity, urban policing, and racial bias.

Born in Baltimore in 1975, Coates developed a love for books from an early age. He attended high school in Baltimore and then enrolled at Howard University to study journalism but left before completing his degree.

30 Ta-Nehisi Coates Quotes Providing Insight on Race and Culture

Coates has won the Kirkus Prize as well as a MacArthur Fellowship. Besides, his book (Between the World and Me) was a New York Times bestseller and won the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction.

As one of the most acclaimed voices of his generation, Coates is someone who has clearly tapped into his Everyday Power. In that respect, below is our collection of insightful and inspirational Ta-Nehisi Coates quotes.

Ta-Nehisi Coates quotes providing insight on race and culture

1. “You are growing into consciousness, and my wish for you is that you feel no need to constrict yourself to make other people comfortable.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

2. “I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world.” –  Ta-Nehisi Coates

3. “One cannot, at once, claim to be superhuman and then plead mortal error. I propose to take our countrymen’s claims of American exceptionalism seriously, which is to say I propose subjecting our country to an exceptional moral standard.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

4. “I think it’s really important to be conscious of yourself and the world around you. For me, that meant reading a lot and reporting.” – Ta-Nehisi Coates

5. “It’s kind of selfish to say that you’re only going to fight for a victory that you will live to see.” – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates quotes providing insight on race and culture

6. “The pursuit of knowing was freedom to me, the right to declare your own curiosities and follow them through all manner of books. I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free. Slowly, I was discovering myself.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

7. “I love living around black people. Home is home. We suffer under racism and the physical deprivations that come with that, but beneath that, we form cultures and traditions that are beautiful.” – Ta-Nehisi Coates
If you’re enjoying these quotes, you’ll love our collection of culture quotes about its power in society.

8. “I just think that if one is going to preach nonviolence and one is going to advocate for nonviolence, one’s standard should be consistent.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

9. “You may not be able to change the course of government, but you can achieve some peace. And books were the path to that. I grew up in a house where books were everywhere.” – Ta-Nehisi Coates

10. “So you must wake up every morning knowing that no promise is unbreakable, least of all the promise of waking up at all. This is not despair. These are the preferences of the universe itself: verbs over nouns, actions over states, struggle over hope.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates on the reality of being black in America

11. “I enjoy the challenge of trying to say things beautifully. The message is secondary in that sense. Obviously, I have something that I want to say that’s very, very important to me – but the process of actually crafting it is essential.” – Ta-Nehisi Coates

12. “I think Barack Obama was born into a home not just to a white woman and white grandparents, but a white woman and white grandparents who shockingly told him it was okay that he was black and that he should not be ashamed of it and that he should, in fact, be proud of it.” – Ta-Nehisi Coates

13. “Black is beautiful—which is to say that the black body is beautiful, that black hair must be guarded against the torture of processing and lye, that black skin must be guarded against bleach, that our noses and mouths must be protected against modern surgery. We are all our beautiful bodies and so must never be prostrate before barbarians, must never submit our original self, our one of one, to defiling and plunder.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

14. “My work is to give you what I know of my own particular path while allowing you to walk your own.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

15. “Anyone can make a baby, but it takes a man to be a father.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates on the reality of being black in America

16. “What I am telling you is that you do not need to know to love, and it is right that you feel it all in any moment. And it is right that you see it through–that you are amazed, then curious, then belligerent, then heartbroken, then numb. You have the right to all of it.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

17. “The most precious thing I had then is the most precious thing I have now—my own curiosity. That is the thing I knew, even in the classroom, they could not take from me. That is the thing that buoyed me and eventually plucked me from the sea.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

18. “I did not tell you that it would be okay, because I have never believed it would be okay. What I told you is what your grandparents tried to tell me: that this is your country, that this is your world, that this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

19. “What I want you to know is that this is not your fault, even if it is ultimately your responsibility.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

20. “An America that asks what it owes its most vulnerable citizens is improved and humane. An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Other thought provoking Ta-Nehisi Coates quotes

21. “I found that the same softness which once made me a target now compelled people to trust me with their stories.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

22. “Even in those pieces that seemed to be casually tossed off, I was always searching for the right word, for the proper escape from the clichés that threatened every sentence, from truisms that threatened to steer me back into the sentimental dream.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

23. “What we must never do is willingly hand over our own bodies or the bodies of our friends. That was the wisdom: We knew we did not lay down the direction of the street, but despite that, we could—and must—fashion the way of our walk. And that is the deeper meaning of your name—that the struggle, in and of itself, has meaning.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

24. “It is by choice not chance…that we choose to advance, The Marshall Team; We can achieve…We will achieve.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

25. “No matter what the professional talkers tell you, I never met a black boy who wanted to fail.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

thought provoking Ta-Nehisi Coates quotes

26. “Everything that was the past seemed to be another life. There was before you, and then there was after, and in this after, you were the God I’d never had. I submitted before your needs, and I knew then that I must survive for something more than survival’s sake. I must survive for you.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

27. “We have made something down here. We have taken the one-drop rules of Dreamers and flipped them. They made us into a race. We made ourselves into a people. Here” – Ta-Nehisi Coates

28. “Black people are not the descendants of kings. We are—and I say this with big pride—the progeny of slaves. If there’s any majesty in our struggle, it lies not in fairy tales but in those humble origins and the great distance we’ve traveled since.” – Ta-Nehisi Coates

29. “You exist. You matter. You have value. You have every right to wear your hoodie, to play your music as loud as you want. You have every right to be you. And no one should deter you from being you. You have to be you. And you can never be afraid to be you.”  – Ta-Nehisi Coates

30. “What I came to understand was that the great democracy in this, and that what mattered to these boys was not so much what you came to the street with but how you carried what you were given.” – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Which of these Ta-Nehisi Coates quotes was your favorite?

Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most important political writers and thinkers of his generation. He has developed a set of linguistic tools that have opened up new ways for black Americans to describe the world and its workings.

A highly distinctive voice, Coates is having profound impact on the discussion of race and racism in American society. Hopefully, the above quotes will inspire you to examine some of the social conditions of our time.

Did you enjoy these Ta-Nehisi Coates quotes? Which of the quotes was your favorite? Let us know in the comment section below.

Norbert Juma, Lead Editor
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1 Comment
  1. Andrea

    March 13, 2019 at 7:40 AM

    Thank you. My life has been ‘recreated’ and valued from a source I do value in Ta-neishi.

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