“Why can we be in a situation where eight years after so much euphoria, we can find ourselves faced with a mortal threat. Not just to black people, not just to the country, but the whole world. 2016 wasn’t the first time we faced a threat like this. It was the idea of WHITENESS that ultimately brought the country to Civil War in 1860.”
Watch the full address below: Of course, many of the white people in the audience were offended and uncomfortable by this dialogue. How dare Ta-Nehisi interrupt their thousand-dollar conference and bubble of privilege to talk about race and politics, right?
Ta-Nehisi Coates is outlining the racism against Barack Obama and linking it to Donald Trump. #inbound16 is not the place for this — jrs76 (@jrs76) November 9, 2016
We did not come to hear your political view of the election! Get on with it Ta-Nehisi Coates. #INBOUND16— Ashley Buehnerkemper (@ashleybuehn) November 9, 2016
@inbound. Didn't come here to listen to political opinions. Very disappointed in Coates! Seriously make it stop!!!!!!! — TamraSue (@TamraRanard) November 9, 2016
Cannot believe how many people are denouncing that amazing keynote by Ta-Nehisi Coates on the #INBOUND16 hashtag and walking out. — Hayley Thayer (@hayleythayer) November 9, 2016
The great irony here is that Coates' keynote address was originally supposed to address education, yet, here he was educating white people on their ignorance and people were walking out. What’s also puzzling is trying to figure out what people thought was going to happen after electing someone like Donald Trump. Did they think one of the most prolific writers of our time was going to walk into a marketing conference the next day and talk about SEO optimization and targeted marketing? No, Tanner. You don’t get to put the lives of millions of minorities at risk and then walk around the next day as if it’s business as usual.
Like Coates said, “We’re all endangered by this.”
What Ta-Nehisi Coates did today should teach us that if you have a platform, use it. If you have a voice, speak out. Especially if you're speaking to a diverse audience. Because what we have learned from this election is that we have been far too insulated in our tightly-knit networks to realize that the nation isn’t as progressive as we hoped it to be. We’ve been preaching to the choir, and we need to be preaching at Dave’s next investment Seminar.
So yeah, it’s going to take Ta-nehisi giving a group of white people a history lesson on slavery in the middle of a digital marketing conference to get the point across, but we really have no options left. This isn’t about taking on the responsibility of educating white people. The polls proved that people are either hopelessly ignorant, or willfully hateful. Disrupting “business as usual” might get across to the hopelessly ignorant. As for the willfully hateful? Don’t worry. Your day of reckoning is coming sooner than you think. This ain’t the 1950s, and we are not our grandparents. Try us if you want.