Ralph W. Baker, Jr., author of Shock Exchange: How Inner-City Kids From Brooklyn Predicted the Great Recession and the Pain Ahead, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Ta-Nehisi Coates et al. Shock Exchange explains the stock market and the economy through the eyes of the New York Shock Exchange, a travel basketball team and financial literacy program Mr. Baker started in 2006 for his 11-year-old son and other boys his age. It also allowed Mr. Baker to share his passion for basketball and investing with the kids.

The lawsuit, Baker v. Coates al, was filed September 19th in the New York Southern District Court. The lawsuit alleges that over the course of nearly a decade, Coates deconstructed Shock Exchange. He copied numerous passages, and meticulously, methodically, tried to hide it. Coates also attempted to mimic Mr. Baker’s dense, rhythmic prose. The lawsuit alleges that collectively, Coates’ actions represent copyright infringement.

The lawsuit also alleges, “In the second half of 2013 Mr. Baker sent a copy of Shock Exchange and a review from Library Journal to several journalists, including someone named Ta-Nehisi Coates … Mr. Baker never heard back from Coates’, but apparently, he liked it … a whole lot. After hearing all the hype about Coates’ first novel, The Water Dancer, in September 2019 Mr. Baker purchased a copy. Mr. Baker’s immediately noticed Coates had attempted to mimic his dense, rhythmic prose.”

The lawsuit alleges the main character in The Water Dancer sounded like a description of Mr. Baker’s life from Shock Exchange, and other characters sounded like Mr. Baker’s description of his parents and grandparents. Lastly, Coates’ plunder allegedly began long before The Water Dancer. In addition to numerous articles from The Atlantic, the case involves books, comic books and a major movie.

About Ralph W. Baker, Jr.

Mr. Baker received his B.A. in economics from Hampden-Sydney College (1989) and his MBA from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia (1993). He has over 15 years of experience in corporate finance and mergers & acquisitions. Mr. Baker, who was also small college All-American in basketball, resides in Brooklyn, NY.


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