Amid Safety Fears, Ta-Nehisi Coates Nixes Plans to Move Back to Brooklyn.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates

Writer and cultural critic Ta-Nehisi Coates has given up on his dream to move back to the Brooklyn neighborhood that he once called home before he gained international fame.

After news broke that Coates had purchased a landmarked brownstone for $2.1 million in Brooklyn’s Prospect-Lefferts Garden, he soon realized that his privacy had been majorly compromised. Fearing for his and his family’s safety, Coates decided that moving to Brooklyn would no longer be a possibility.

“You can’t really be a black writer in this country, take certain positions, and not think about your personal safety. That’s just the history,” Coates wrote on his Atlantic magazine blog.

“. . . No one keep secrets in Brooklyn,” Coates wrote. “A few weeks after we bought, another friend sent an item from a local blog gossiping about our possible purchase. We didn’t expect to live anonymously. We thought there might be some interest and we took some steps to dissuade that interest. Those steps failed.”

Last week, the New York Post, and several other publications, reported on the purchase. They ran pictures of the house. They named my wife. They photoshopped me in the kitchen. They talked to the seller’s broker. The seller’s broker told them when we’d be moving in. The seller’s broker speculated on our plans for renovation. They rummaged through my kid’s Instagram account. They published my home address[…]

Within a day of seeing these articles, my wife and I knew that we could never live in Prospect-Lefferts Garden, that we could never go back home. If anything happened to either of us, if anything happened to our son, we’d never forgive ourselves. Even the more likely, more benign, examples were disconcerting — fans showing up at your door (this happened once) or waiting for you on your stoop. Our old neighborhood was not as quiet as we thought. Nothing is quiet anymore — least of all us.


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