Connection: Marvel’s Captain America and Reparations
The adventures of Marvel’s Captain America will soon be told by Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic.
The liberal author who penned “The Case for Reparations” in June 2014 will turn his attention to “Steve Rogers” on the Fourth of July. Mr. Coates, a New York Times bestseller, explained his new gig Wednesday.
“Captain America, the embodiment of a kind of Lincolnesque optimism, poses a direct question for me: Why would anyone believe in The Dream?” he asks in a piece titled “Why I’m writing ‘Captain America'”. “What is exciting here is not some didactic act of putting my words in Captain America’s head, but attempting to put Captain America’s words in my head. What is exciting is the possibility of exploration, of avoiding the repetition of a voice I’ve tired of.”
Mr. Coates, who has also worked on multiple “Black Panther” books in recent years, added that he was drawn to the job because “Captain America is not so much tied to America as it is, but to an America of the imagined past.”
“Then there is the basic challenge of drawing with words — the fear that accompanies every effort,” he added. “And the fear is part of the attraction because, if I am honest, the ‘opinion’ part of opinion-journalism is no longer as scary it once was. Reporting — another word for discovery — will always be scary. Opining, less so. And nothing should really scare a writer more than the moment when they are no longer scared. I think it’s then that one might begin to lapse into self-caricature, endlessly repeating the same insights and the same opinions over and over. I’m not convinced I can tell a great Captain America story — which is precisely why I want so bad to try.”
Mr. Coates told The Atlantic readers in 2014 that it was incumbent upon Americans to “imagine a new country” that permitted reparations for slavery.
“Reparations — by which I mean the full acceptance of our collective biography and its consequences — is the price we must pay to see ourselves squarely,” he wrote. “The recovering alcoholic may well have to live with his illness for the rest of his life. But at least he is not living a drunken lie. Reparations beckons us to reject the intoxication of hubris and see America as it is — the work of fallible humans.”
“Won’t reparations divide us?” he asked. “Not any more than we are already divided. The wealth gap merely puts a number on something we feel but cannot say — that American prosperity was ill-gotten and selective in its distribution. What is needed is an airing of family secrets, a settling with old ghosts. What is needed is a healing of the American psyche and the banishment of white guilt.””What I’m talking about is more than recompense for past injustices — more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant bribe. What I’m talking about is a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal. Reparations would mean the end of scarfing hot dogs on the Fourth of July while denying the facts of our heritage. Reparations would mean the end of yelling ‘patriotism’ while waving a Confederate flag. Reparations would mean a revolution of the American consciousness, a reconciling of our self-image as the great democratizer with the facts of our history.”
Mr. Coates will be joined on “Captain America” by artist Leinil Yu.
Artist Alex Ross will provide covers.
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