Coates is not a Christian. The heavy force in Between the World and Me — what makes it both unique and bleak — is his atheism. It gives Coates’s writing urgency. To consider the African-American experience without the language of souls and destiny is to strip it of euphemism, and to make the security of African-American bodies even more crucial. It also isolates him from the main black political tradition. “There’s a kind of optimism specifically within Christianity about the world — about whose side God is on,” he said. “Well, I didn’t have any of that in my background. I had physicality and chaos.”
On his blog, the writer had criticized the president for suggesting, during a speech on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, that many African-Americans had “lost our way” and calling for more personal responsibility. The president told Coates he had been unfair. As he was walking away, Obama turned back and said, “Don’t despair.”
I feel like we let 8bitsamurai despair.
I feel like I did, anyways.