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by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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What is "the paranoid style of American policing" described in We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates?

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"The Paranoid Style of American Policing" was an essay that appeared in a 2015 issue of The Atlantic. It was not included in We Were Eight Years In Power, a collection of Atlantic essays written by Coates during the Obama era. Its title is a reference to a famous and influential essay by Richard Hofstadter that highlighted the tendency toward paranoia, panic, and conspiracy theories in American political discourse. Coates writes that black men are subject to a similar paranoia, one nurtured by American media and society as a whole, and which has fatal consequences. He argues that we have decided that Americans have collectively decided that "it is permissible, that it is wise, that it is moral for the police to de-escalate through killing."

This is at odds with the morals of the communities that policemen are supposed to protect, and it is a stance driven, fundamentally, by paranoia and fear of black men. Coates does not fully lay out the causes, nor the racialized dimensions of this fear,...

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