Ta-Nehisi Coates Is Leaving The Atlantic

Ta-Nehisi Coates Is Leaving The Atlantic


Ta-Nehisi Coates, among the most influential intellectuals and writers in the United States, is leaving his position as a national correspondent for The Atlantic after a decade with the magazine, its top editor said Friday.

Mr. Coates, 42, gained a wide readership during his time at The Atlantic, where he published sweeping, painstakingly reported essays about systemic racism and white supremacy in the United States.

In a memo to the staff, Jeffrey Goldberg, the magazine’s editor in chief, called the departure “bittersweet news.”

“As he has explained to me — and as he’s written in the recent past — the last few years for him have been years of significant changes. He’s told me that he would like to take some time to reflect on these changes, and to figure out the best path forward, both as a person and as a writer,” Mr. Goldberg wrote.

“What is the sweet part?” he added. “For starters, Ta-Nehisi’s extraordinary record of achievement at The Atlantic.”

Mr. Coates, who was hired at The Atlantic in 2008, has written about a range of issues including politics, poverty, the Confederate battle flag, health care and his own name.

He has written about the black people who were killed by their neighbors, the police or perfect strangers during those years — including Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Renisha McBride — and about an old friend of his, Prince Jones, who was killed by the police in 2000.

But his best-known pieces for the magazine are his long, deeply reported essays about racial injustice — especially “The Case for Reparations,” which dissects the history of racist oppression and argues for a proper redress:

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. The lie ignores the fact that reducing American poverty and ending white supremacy are not the same.

Mr. Coates did not respond immediately to a request for comment on Friday, but he told Erik Wemple of The Washington Post that his public prominence was a factor in his decision to step down.

“I became the public face of the magazine in many ways and I don’t really want to be that. I want to be a writer,” he said. “I’m not a symbol of what The Atlantic wants to do or whatever.”

Mr. Coates also left Twitter recently, after he was publicly criticized by the Harvard philosopher and civil rights activist Cornel West, who called him “the neoliberal face of the black freedom struggle.”

Outside of his work at The Atlantic, Mr. Coates’s books have won critical acclaim. “Between the World and Me,” which was written as a letter to his son and mined the experience of being black in America (and, briefly, in France), was hailed by Toni Morrison and won the National Book Award in 2015. His other books include “We Were Eight Years in Power,” a collection of essays that came out last year, and “The Beautiful Struggle,” a memoir published in 2008.

In 2015, he received what is known as a genius grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

In recent years Mr. Coates, a Marvel Comics fan, has been writing Black Panther and Captain America comics.

Mr. Goldberg said in his memo on Friday that he hoped Mr. Coates would consider contributing to The Atlantic in the future. “For now, though, allow me to simply wish my old friend well,” he added.



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