But more than that, it’s the world I live in. The buses in Harlem heave under the weight of wrecked bodies. New York will not super-size itself, so you’ll see whole rows in which one person is taking up two seats and aisles in which people strain to squeeze past each other. And then there are the middle-age amputees in wheelchairs who’ve lost a leg or two way before their time. When I lived in Brooklyn, the most depressing aspect of my day was the commute back home. The deeper the five train wended into Brooklyn, the blacker it became, and the blacker it became, the fatter it got. I was there among them–the blacker and fatter–and filled with a sort of shameful self-loathing at myself and my greater selves around me. One of the hardest thing about being black is coming up dead last in almost anything that matters. As a child, and a young adult, I was lucky. Segregation was a cocoon brimming with all the lovely variety of black life. But out in the world you come to see, in the words of Peggy Olson, that they have it all–and so much of it. Working on the richest island in the world, then training through Brooklyn, or watching the buses slog down 125th has become a kind of corporeal metaphor–the achievement gap of our failing bodies, a slow sickness as the racial chasm.
more from Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic here.