We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a collection of essays that Coates wrote during President Obama’s administration. Each essay includes a foreword that explains Coates’s mindset during the writing of that piece. Coates has explained in interviews that he structured the book in this way because he is interested in exploring process.

In “The Case for Reparations,” Coates writes,

To ignore the fact that one of the oldest republics in the world was erected on a foundation of white supremacy, to pretend that the problems of a dual society are the same as the problems of unregulated capitalism, is to cover the sin of national plunder with the sin of national lying. (198)

Coates puts U.S. incarceration rates into perspective in the essay “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration.”

China has about four times America’s population, but American jails and prisons hold half a million more people. "In short," an authoritative report issued last year by the National Research Council concluded, "the current U.S. rate of incarceration is unprecedented by both historical and comparative standards." (232)

In “My President was Black,” Coates describes the mood at a farewell party presented by BET (Black Entertainment Television) that the Obamas hosted in the White House toward the end of President Obama's time in office.

This would not happen again, and everyone knew it. It was not just that there might never be another African American president of the United States. It was the feeling that this particular black family, the Obamas, represented the best of black people, the ultimate credit to the race, incomparable in elegance and bearing. (295)

In writing about Trump’s victory in the epilogue, Coates writes,

Trump removed the questions of racism from the euphemistic and plausibly deniable to the realm of the overt and freely claimed. This presented the country’s thinking class with a dilemma. (362)