Adapted from Black Panther #2, Ta-Nehisi Coates:

The day after I became king, my uncle offered a single piece of wisdom.

"Power lies not in what a king does, but in what his subjects believe he might do." This was profound, for it meant that the majesty of kings lay in their mystique, not their might. Every act of might diminished the king, for it diminished his mystique. Might exposed the king's powers and thus his limits. Might made the king human. Breakable.

Adapted from Black Panther #2, Ta-Nehisi Coates, cont’d:

My uncle is dead now, murdered by another king. I loved him, but I wish he'd told me not just of the power of kings, but of the might of the people. I wish he'd warned me that they, too, have secrets. They, too, hold mysteries. They, too, possess a power all their own.

This passage really reminds me of some of the things Devereaux talks about here[1] regarding the performance of legitimacy. If we synthesize these two pieces, some of the work of performing legitimacy is making things within the realm of "mystique" seem plausible, without having to resort to might and thus tipping your hand regarding what is actually _possible_.


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