Shred of Truth: Antinomy and Synecdoche in the Work of Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Stephen C. Ferguson
Gregory D. Meyerson


In this essay, from a Marxist perspective, we aim to examine the conceptual underpinnings of Coates’ analysis of race and racism, principally in his award-winning book but also in his well-known articles for The Atlantic. We hope to clarify the differences between Coates’ anti-racist (essentially liberal-nationalist) analysis and a Marxist (class) analysis of racism. We examine several antinomies that run throughout Coates’ work: class versus race, white freedom versus Black subordination, voluntarism versus determinism and essentialism versus anti-essentialism.

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