Sarah Miller’s previous work for The Toast, including other sestinas by David Brooks, can be found here.
Before I talk about you, Ta-Nahesi Coates, I want to say how interesting
it is to be white,
and what a kick I get out of receiving actual cash money to reflect upon the lives of people.
And, although I enjoy my written meditations on all Americans,
there’s something extra special about the African-American
experience. Your whole situation really makes me think.
Gosh, I love to think.
One’s brain – so interesting.
Case in point: You are black and an African-American.
I am white
and a Jewish-American.
(Which means I get pogroms.) But we are both people.
And since we are people
Me? I tend to be fascinated by American
stuff. Like: “The world is so interesting!”
and, you – perhaps because you are not white –
are fascinated by African-American
stuff. Like: “Being African-American
means living with the brutal awareness that most people
who are white
about how violent and enraging and unending (and not merely interesting)
it is for me and those I love to co-exist with racist, delusional America.”
Mr. Coates, as an American
I feel pressed upon to present my opinion of your opinion of our opinion of African-Americans.
I’m not saying your dark, deeply personal view isn’t interesting.
But I wonder at your dismissal of so many people,
many of whom I happen to think
are terrific, even if they happen to be white.
I accept that part of being white
and being American
and being a columnist means I definitely need to think
and write about African-American
issues and people.
It’s no problem, because it’s all so interesting.
Yes, Mr. Coates, I admit that whites have done a real number on African-Americans.
I want to say out loud to you I don’t think that makes all Americans bad people.
But you really made me think. What a debt of gratitude I owe you for being so interesting.