Ta-Nehisi Coates will not be moving to a brownstone in his former home of Brooklyn, New York after the $2.1 million purchase attracted such high-profile media attention. Coates had always dreamed of moving back into the borough that he lived in as his family was starting to grow. But they had to leave the townhouse after a dispute with a landlord.
The acclaimed writer expresses his thoughts in his newest blog post for The Atlantic. After Coates f0und success with his book, “Between the World And Me” in 2015, the Baltimore native called a friend to see if there were any homes available in the Prospect-Lefferts Garden neighborhood.
The couple loved the home, which was dubbed “The Dream.” Though there was “a storm around the book” at this time, Coates and his wife believed they could weather it since the neighborhood had always been quiet.
But the media soon learned about the large purchase.
“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.”
Instead, Coates says publications reported on personal information.
“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.“
Because Coates’ personal and family privacy was invaded, he could not jeopardize their safety by going through with the purchase.
“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.”
Coates highlighted the potential pitfall of being an outspoken author, especially on race issues. He wrote in The Atlantic blog, “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.”
After Patch – one of the websites that originally aired Coates’ business – caught wind of his article, a reporter tweeted her regrets.
what a horrible feeling, to know you contributed in part to someone forgoing a place to live.
— Rachel H. Smith (@rachelholliday) May 9, 2016
The website also added an apology to the original article, saying “it’s honestly a little nauseating to think our coverage could have helped push a mind as strong and daring and indispensable as Ta-Nehisi Coates’ into feeling unsafe in this beautiful community.”
New York Curbed has linked to Coates’ article in their original reporting. But The Real Deal –the other website with the edited kitchen photo – has not made any changes to their original piece. The New York Post also hasn’t mentioned the change.