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We Were Eight Years in Power summary

Ta-Nehisi Coates

An American Tragedy

4.5 (20 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates examines the Obama era and its impact on race relations in America. The book explores the rise of white nationalism and critiques Obama's handling of police brutality against black Americans.

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    We Were Eight Years in Power
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    Obama’s presidency gave rise to a wave of prominent Black writers and speakers, but they don’t all speak the truth.

    The 2008–2016 presidency of Barack Obama was a historic achievement. For the first time in US history, a Black president sat in the White House. That would’ve been inconceivable in the not-too-distant past. But these accomplishments stretched beyond just the president himself.

    During his term, and as a result of it, many Black journalists and writers rose to prominence, giving a voice to Black Americans. However, the author disagrees with one voice among them. It’s that of the prominent comedian, Bill Cosby, who preaches to the Black community about discipline, moral reform and personal responsibility.

    In summer 2016, the author saw Cosby speak at Detroit’s St Paul Church of God in Christ. He told the Black audience that, while racism may be ever-present, it’s no excuse for Black Americans to fail. Cosby said that African-Americans needed to clean up their culture and take responsibility for their lives.

    Worse was Cosby’s so-called “Pound Cake speech,” made in 2004 at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP, in Washington. Cosby attacked Black Americans for, among other things, giving their kids African names. He vehemently announced to the crowd, “we’re not Africans.” In the same speech, he said that segregation produced “good things,” arguing that it made Black people learn self-sufficiency.

    If it’s not already clear to you, Cosby is dead wrong. He’s turning white racism back onto Black people, making it an issue stemming from African-American culture. He believes that the racial problems of contemporary society are the result of a post-segregationist, pathological Black culture that fetishizes gangster rap and drugs.

    Cosby even ignores legitimate claims by Black citizens and activists that white supremacy is still prominent in America today and that the criminal justice system is in dire need of reform.

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    What is We Were Eight Years in Power about?

    We Were Eight Years in Power (2017) reflects on President Barack Obama’s two terms in power and the aftermath of the first Black presidency. These blinks take a candid look at racism and white supremacy throughout American history.

    We Were Eight Years in Power Review

    We Were Eight Years in Power (2017) by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a thought-provoking book that explores race, politics, and the Obama presidency. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With in-depth analysis and historical context, Coates provides a nuanced understanding of the complexities of race relations in America.
    • By chronicling the eight years of the Obama administration, the book sheds light on the progress made and the challenges still faced when it comes to racial equality.
    • Coates' eloquent and powerful prose makes the book a compelling read, offering insights that are both thought-provoking and eye-opening.

    Best quote from We Were Eight Years in Power

    There are thousands and thousands of Michelle and Barack Obamas across America. You just dont live next door to them, or there isnt a TV show about them.

    —Ta-Nehisi Coates
    example alt text

    Who should read We Were Eight Years in Power?

    • Americans interested in learning about Black experience in the USA
    • Anyone who’s concerned about the state of democracy
    • Anyone interested in the history and political consequences of racism and white supremacy

    About the Author

    Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent for the Atlantic and the author of Between the World and Me, which won the National Book Award in 2015.

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    We Were Eight Years in Power FAQs 

    What is the main message of We Were Eight Years in Power?

    The main message of We Were Eight Years in Power is a reflection on the Obama era and its impact on race and politics in America.

    How long does it take to read We Were Eight Years in Power?

    The reading time for We Were Eight Years in Power varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is We Were Eight Years in Power a good book? Is it worth reading?

    We Were Eight Years in Power is a thought-provoking book that delves into important issues of race and politics in America. It's definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of We Were Eight Years in Power?

    Ta-Nehisi Coates is the author of We Were Eight Years in Power.

    What to read after We Were Eight Years in Power?

    If you're wondering what to read next after We Were Eight Years in Power, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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