Truths, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Updates, & Links for the Frameshifts Project


Truths, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Updates, & Links

Living with a truth is like living with a teenager. Argument does not weaken him; nor is he moved to pity. He sullenly presumes your betrayal. Singing “And who can abide the day of his coming?” Truth will never let you off.

For example, it is true that humans are interdependent with each other and with other living beings. In a letter of condolence, Albert Einstein once called the sense of separation an “optical delusion of consciousness.” And, also speaking of separation, James Baldwin observed that some people, “because they think that they are white” bring “humanity to the edge of oblivion.”

Argue that separation is inevitable or sometimes beneficial: Truth simply shakes his head. Seek a concession or grandfather clause: He offers no loopholes.

Living with Truth in the house means that you must take a drive if you want to return to your Dream. But when you go back into the house, Truth is still there.

So, when Ta-Nehisi Coates, in Between the world and Me, writes to his son that America’s achievements derive from racist brutality, lynching, and looting, he is simply telling the truth.  And when Coates takes a drive around the block he finds the “gorgeous dream” of America. “It is perfect houses with nice lawns. It is Memorial Day cookouts, block associations, and driveways. The Dream is a tree house and cub scouts  .  . . (a dream that) persists by warring with the known world.”

It is a dream of how we choose to think about ourselves. Go back into the house. Just over the threshold, Truth is waiting.

Like the Departures and Arrivals Gate at the airport, the threshold between different frames of reference is always available. Shifting frames of reference is not a comfort.  Frequently trying on different frames of reference, like choosing shoes, may be annoying, but it does offer one benefit: it offers just enough depth to put your life in relief and lead you to ask, “Now what do I do with my life?”

Just don’t be too quick to answer the question with someone else’s idea of Three Easy Steps.  The only worthwhile answer to how we are to live with the truth that we are not separate must come from the work we do on ourselves–trying to master our own materials first, in our own studios (whatever they are), one step at a time.

In this way, Ta-Nehisi Coates answers his own version of the question: “How do I live free in this black body?”  Always a curious observer, and working on himself, he finds that the “greatest reward of this constant interrogation, of confrontation with the brutality of my country, is that it has freed me from ghosts and girded me against the sheer terror of disembodiment.”

The Frameshifts project is dedicated to shifting your frame of reference through stories, poems, and music. When we shift frames, we think differently about ourselves and others. We may even question unchanging ideas about how things are and should be and reconsider the unbidden systems we received at birth. Let ghosts go on their way.


INTERVIEWS:   Listen to the interviews of authors Richard Rose and Bill Sizemore on Monday July 23, 2018 on WRIR 97.3fm at 11:00 a.m. (Afterwards, it will be available on podcast at ). This features a short performance based on:  COMING AROUND,  released for sale on August 6, 2018. In nonfiction and poetry, both authors address their families’ past involvement with slavery and consider the present-day consequences. Sizemore’s book release will be at Chop Suey Book Store in Richmond on September 5, 2018.  Both books are published by Brandylane Publishing in Richmond.

PERFORMANCES:   Also, check out the performances of some of Rose’s operas on his YouTube channel. Included are the April 2018 performances by Capitol Opera Richmond of “Monte and Pinky” at the Black History Museum and “Strike the Rock!” at the Church of the Holy Comforter.  “Monte & Pinky” is the musical companion of Coming AroundThe character “Pinky” first appeared in the first volume of Frameshifts, a book of poems and stories published in two volumes in 2011.  For the recorded performances, link to Rose’s YouTube channel:


THE BOOK TOUR: Two more stops on Richard Rose’s book tour for Coming Around are:

The Local Authors Expo: Over 30 authors will be present on Saturday, August 4, 2018 at Petersburg Main Library on 201 W. Washington from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to discuss, sign and sell their books.

The BookPeople Re-Opening Event: Richard Rose will present a performance based on Coming Around for the re-opening of a remodeled BookPeople in Richmond on Saturday, September 1, 2018, from 1:00 to 2:30.  Book People (536 Granite Ave # A, Richmond, VA 23226).

Recently, the online Piedmont Journal has published an issue in hard copy, which includes Rose’s series of poems entitled “Stops along Route 15.” Link:


To see more work by Richard Rose, see or to subscribe to the blog and website, at

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