Randomness (r_ness) wrote,

Ta-Nehisi Coates beginning to write about the recent events in Paris.

I came to Paris, last week, with a fairly well-defined mission. Halfway through the week, events overtook me. On Thursday, I was determined to ignore the terrorist attack and plug away on my own projects. But by Saturday, I was in a room with some Paris friends discussing the fallout, and on Sunday I was at a brunch with those same Parisians and then off to la manifestation. Since then I've done almost nothing but talk to the people who call this city—and its banlieues—home. I have so much to tell you, but it's raw and unseasoned. I need some time to marinate and then cook.


I am here for a little while longer. My hope is that by the time I leave I will have graduated from "Internet smart" to the ranks of the "sort of knowledgeable." I'm talking to everyone I can. I'm reading as much as I can. I'm endangering previously agreed-upon deadlines. History is happening around me and I am not equipped to understand. I am mostly unequipped because I only have the barest understanding of the emotional aspects of patriotism. I have spent the past week asking people what, precisely, they believe themselves to be defending. The answers have been fascinating.


I don't yet know how all of this connects to the events we are seeing today. But I proceed from the working theory that all nations like to begin the story with the chapter that most advantages them and the job of the writer is to resist this instinct. And I proceed from the working theory that the story of black people in America, is an excellent launchpad for a larger investigation into the limits of democracy and compassion throughout the West. It is not the sole launchpad, and the investigation must, ultimately, go beyond the simple of drawing of parallels.

But it is a start—the only start I have. I don't have much time here. And this is a very new space for me. I have studied black people all of my life. I have only studied the Francophone world for three years. I am, as always, very afraid.

More soon.
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