Coates is a journalist, blogger and memoirist who brings personal reflection and historical scholarship to bear on America’s most contested issues. Writing without shallow polemic and in a measured style, Coates addresses complex and challenging issues such as racial identity, systemic racial bias, and urban policing.
His first book, “The Beautiful Struggle,” was published in 2008. The memoir recounts his childhood in Baltimore and focuses heavily on the influence his father had on his life. His most recent book, “Between the World and Me,” was released in July 2015. Framed as a letter from Coates to his 15-year-old son, the book was published in the wake of the announcement that no charges would be brought against Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in the killing of teenager Michael Brown. “Between the World and Me” is not only Coates’ powerful account of his own experiences; it also brings his unflinching voice to bear on the experience of race more broadly in America, particularly in the lives of black men. It was a New York Times bestseller, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and winner of the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction.
“Race is the child of racism, not the father.” - “Between the World and Me”
Coates is a national correspondent for the Atlantic. In 2014, Coates published “The Case for Reparations,” a long-form essay that prompted a national dialogue around the enduring economic impact of racist policies such as Jim Crow and redlining.
“An unsegregated America might see poverty, and all its effects, spread across the country with no particular bias toward skin color. Instead, the concentration of poverty has been paired with a concentration of melanin. The resulting conflagration has been devastating.” - “The Case for Reparations”
Coates was the recipient of a “Genius Grant” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 2015. In the following interview produced by the MacArthur Foundation, Coates discusses his work:
Ta-Nehisi Coates was recognized in September 2016 as one of Living Cities' 25 Disruptive Leaders working to close racial opportunity gaps.