Winston Center Collaborations:
Sarah Chayes and Ta-Nehisi Coates
In October, the Winston Center collaborated with the Islamic Civilization and Societies program to feature Sarah Chayes, author of Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Society, and the Lowell Humanities Lecture Series, which featured Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of Between the World and Me.
Sarah Chayes, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, talked about her time in Afghanistan during the Hamid Karzai administration. As a reporter with National Public Radio (NPR), Chayes covered the fall of the Taliban. With Karzai securing the backing and support from the Western world, she described her hope for a free and democratic Afghanistan, and was determined to be part of the country’s rebuilding. However, Chayes quickly became disillusioned as she witnessed firsthand corruption within the Karzai inner circles, leading her to investigate the root cause of societal corruption. Chayes remains committed to the future of Afghanistan and continues her work with Arghand, a manufacturing cooperative she founded in Kandahar that makes fine skin-care products for export.
With increasing national attention on race relations, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s appearance on campus was well timed. A newly minted MacArthur fellow, Coates addressed a standing-room crowd to talk about his latest book, which is framed as a letter on race relations in America to his 15-year-old son. He talked about what it is like to be black in America, and expressed that the fear and anxiety with which he lives magnified upon the birth of his son. Coates views his new book as his contribution to the conversation about race issues in America, but said that he alone cannot change systemic racism in America. It is the responsibility of every person living in America to effect that change.