The Debut of the Godless Perverts Book Club: “My President Was Black”

Ta-Nehisi Coates: "My President Was Black"

I’ve long been of the opinion that Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the best writers working today, so it’s appropriate that this week we used one of his articles to launch Godless Perverts’ new book club.

I didn’t have any say in the choice of material. The really beautiful thing about the book club is that it’s the first Godless Perverts meetup that neither Greta nor I are in charge of. Maggs and Donna, the two brilliant people who’ve taken the helm, chose “My President Was Black,” Coates’s article from The Atlantic which details the history of Barack Obama’s two administrations and of the man himself. I strongly recommend reading it. There’s also an audio version read by Coates available if you prefer:

I’m not going to talk too much about the article itself. It’s too big and too complicated, and I don’t have Coates’s remarkable gift of balancing complex insights with clear writing. I have too much to say about the article and the situation that we find ourselves in, and I don’t have the skill or the energy to talk about either in the way that it deserves.

What I will say is that reading “My President Was Black” made me more aware than ever of the grief that I’m feeling over the ascendance of Trump. Coates shows just what a remarkable thing the Obama presidency was, and to go from that to the brutal egomaniac who’s going to step into the Oval Office at the end of this week is just too much to bear. In a matter of days, we’re going from the best that America had to offer to the absolute worst. I’m moving from hope for a better future to just hoping that my friends and family — and myself — survive the next few years.

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The only thing I have right now is other people, and knowing that I’m not the only person who’s terrified and angry, and so I get a lot of strength from Godless Perverts right now. The first book club discussion was especially invigorating: It was a small group — about six or seven people — but the conversation was very intense. It combined the personal and the political — because talking about Trump and the fear that he inspires can’t help but do so. He is the first politician who I can honestly say has given me nightmares. I take a vote for him not as a political difference, but as a personal attack on myself and my loved ones.

I’ve never joined a book club before. Generally speaking, I tend to resist the notion of assigned reading, and choose my titles on impulse rather than any coordinated plan. But I’m really looking forward to seeing where the Godless Perverts Book Club goes. I’m looking to Godless Perverts in general as a way to hold on to my sanity and to stay connected to other people, and I’m really grateful to Donna and Maggs for helping to expand it, especially right now.

Blueprint for Revolution by Sroja Popovic (Cover Image)
If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, the book club meets at Borderlands Café on the third Tuesday of every month. The next meetup is on February 21, and we’ve chosen another political book: Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World  by Srdja Popovic. Popovic isn’t just being glib with the title: He was one of the founders of Otpor! an anti-Milosevic resistance group in Yugoslavia during the late 90s and early oughts. I’ll give you some thoughts on it after the next book club.

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The Debut of the Godless Perverts Book Club: “My President Was Black”

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