There's something eerily similar in the way liberal America celebrates writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and rapper Kendrick Lamar, something that bothers me, and I think I've figured out what it is: the casual insult that comes with acting like these two are so qualitatively beyond their peers.
Coates and Lamar are both amazing at what they do, I love 'em both. But the way liberal America celebrates Coates as some kind of revelatory genius, sometimes you'd think no other black commentator has ever written brilliantly about the black experience in America. The way liberal America celebrates Lamar, sometimes you'd think no other rapper has ever made intelligent music. And that's bullshit.
Chris Rock has a great line about how there's been no black progress in America, it's white progress. As in, there's been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years, but white folks have finally progressed to the point where they'd let a black person have the job. With guys like Coates and Lamar, it feels like white liberal America has progressed to the point that they'll acknowledge the genius of a black intellectual, but just one at a time!
To act like Coates and Lamar are doing something amazing, unheard of, incredible is to belittle the contribution of every other black writer/rapper doing damn good work. They're at the top of the game in their chosen fields, but so's Steph Curry and people still manage to give appropriate props to LeBron, Durant, etc.
So, I ask every liberal white American who calls Ta-Nehisi Coates their favorite black commentator on race in America: Who's your second-favorite? Every liberal white American who calls Kendrick Lamar your favorite conscious rapper: Who's your second-favorite? And if you can't think of anyone else, maybe question how deep your enlightenment actually is.