Coates pp. 39-71

1.) Coates’ description of Howard University as “the Mecca” is an allusion to the actual Mecca of Islam. In Islam, Mecca is a place of holy transcendence and worship. By describing Howard University as “a machine, crafted to capture and concentrate the dark energy of all African peoples,” Coates is implying that Howard University held the same sort of unity and reverence for the black community (40). Coates later discusses the power he felt while being there and being in a majority-black school.

2.) When Coates writes about these things, he’s referring to the notion he once held that all Africans were once a unified race of “majestic” and powerful people. Coates wants to believe this because of his observations at Howard university. After experiencing a “true” black community, Coates believed all well established African communities were just as magical, efficient, etc. What Coates finds, though, is a history that is less unified than he thought. Not only were white men the villains, but Africans never really experienced a true unification. Coates remarks that many tribes fought amongst themselves, some using more violence than that of the white man. This leads Coates to question, “had we retained any of our African inheritance?” (47).

3.)”I was not in any slave ship. Or perhaps I was, because so much of what I’d felt in Baltimore…I saw in Hayden’s work” (Coates 51). I found this passage interesting because it offers a view into Coates’ changing ideas. By referencing Hayden, the poet who wrote from the perspective if the enslaver, and then referencing himself, it almost seems as though Coates is calling himself his own enslaver. He’s not blaming himself over the system. He is, however, commenting on the power of oneself. By focusing on all the negative in Baltimore and trapping himself in a mindset of hatred and futility, did Coates enslave himself at a young age?

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