Randall Kennedy

Randall Kennedy has been a contributing editor of the Prospect since 1995. He is the Michael R. Klein Professor of Law at Harvard University. His several books include The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency.

Recent Articles

Despair Is Not an Option

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert Graduate members of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity pray during a social action prayer vigil across the street from the Jefferson Davis monument in New Orleans, prior to its removal. This article is a preview of the Fall 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . D evotees of racial justice continue to be appalled by the Trump administration. Heather Heyer, the anti-racist demonstrator murdered in Charlottesville, was right: “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” A great many Americans, especially African Americans, are in a mood of despair upon witnessing a president of the United States winking at neo-Confederates, neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klansmen, and doing everything in his power to expunge the achievements of his predecessor, a man who came to be known less for his race than for his decency, dignity, and honor. Yet despair is not an option. And in fact, good people of all races are putting their anger to good use through...

The Case for Resistance

There is no common ground to be had with the Trump administration.

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File Protesters hold signs as they prepare to march in opposition to the election of President-elect Donald Trump on Sunday, November 13, 2016, in St. Louis. This article will appears in the Winter 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . D onald J. Trump will be the next president of the United States. That is sobering because he is glaringly unsuited for any significant public office, much less the most important in our country and indeed the world. Nothing about his pre-candidacy record recommends him. To the contrary, it is so lacking in relevant achievement, so marred by embarrassment, that many onlookers thought that his run for the presidency was nothing more than a publicity stunt. Then his campaign itself was so repulsive, so saturated with bigotries of various sorts, so ostentatiously crass, so glaringly demagogic, that it prompted many leading figures in his own party to repudiate him. The conservative New Hampshire Union Leader...

Ta-Nehisi Coates's Caricature of Black Reality

Ta-Nehisi Coates has written the race book of the year. Too bad it’s disempowering.

John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation/Creative Commons.
John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Ta-Nehisi Coates. This book review appears in the Fall 2015 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . T a-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me is an open letter to his 15-year-old son, Samori. It conveys worry over Samori’s prospects and posits a stoical parental philosophy on raising a black man in America. Coates’s portrayal of the African American past, present, and future is gloomy. He asserts that the subordination of blacks has been an integral feature of the good fortune that Euro-Americans have enjoyed. “A mountain is not a mountain if there is nothing below,” he observes. “You and I, my son, are that ‘below.’” True in 1776, “it is true today.” Coates presents American history as a chronicle of atrocities. The consolidation of white America, he writes, “was not achieved through wine tastings and ice cream socials, but rather through the pillaging of life, liberty, labor, and land; through the flaying of backs...

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