A couple of weeks ago, my six year old son (the one who is pictured on the banner for this site at one year old) excitedly donned his new Black Panther costume for Halloween. Knowing Ta-Nehisi Coates is currently writing the comic book, I grabbed our copy of Between the World and Me off of the shelf and snapped a picture of my son holding the book.
Being an online fanboy, I tweeted the image to Ta-Nehisi Coates. When he retweeted the image, I was bubbling with teenage excitement...like an old school celebrity autograph.
one of us...one of us... https://t.co/zM9VIMuduV— Ta-Nehisi Coates (@tanehisicoates) October 16, 2016
The feedback from the Twitter-verse (likes and retweets) was overwhelmingly positive. And do note, in the image, my son's very beige hands are clearly visible. Viewers of the image knew it was a white kid. Also, my profile pic is actually of me...again, a white guy.
The online reaction of Ta-Nehisi Coates and those who appreciate his work was not that of a group of white-person-hating-reverse-racists. Instead, the collective online response was warm and welcoming.
But, some white people are special snowflakes that recoil at criticisms of whiteness. The one negative response follows:
The response referred to Coates' metaphor of White Americans living the "Dream." A Dream that allows white people to remain blissfully ignorant of historical and contemporary suffering that underwrites many of their comfortable existences. Engaging with the book shows Coates' disdain is is directed at the Dream. Obviously, individual dreamers are complicit, but not because of some primordial essence. The willful perpetuation of the dream is the crime.@tanehisicoates @CoryHarrisNY I'm surprised you approve of little white Dreamers reading your bitter, racist screed.— Edward McNamara (@BlackIrishman32) October 17, 2016
Clearly, for the tweet's author, a thoughtful and nuanced discussion of the painful, lived experience of many black Americans becomes a screed. It's been said before, but in an era when cries against "political correctness" have become deafening, it's telling how easily those in traditional positions of power become take offense.