Category Archives: Ta-Nehisi Coates

1001 Black Men–#567

Starbucks, South Shore Center, Alameda, CA.

I think different cultures have their rules and mores. I’d say the mores of the black community didn’t all come natural to me–I was terrible at basketball, but I had to play because it was the official neighborhood sport. I was an awful dancer, but at a black party there is one person who will be ridiculed more than the guy who can’t dance–the guy who doesn’t dance at all. That last point is key. The thing I came to love about my community was that they didn’t expect you to be a master, but they expected you to try, to fight–sometimes literally. If you saw ten dudes banking your homeboy, you had to help–not because you were Bruce Lee, but because that was your man, and you were expected to take the fall with him. Winning wasn’t the point.

–From “John McWhorter on Black Nerds” by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Atlantic Monthly, November 24, 2008)