Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a letter to his fifteen year old son in which he discusses race in America. Specifically, he touches on the Black Lives Matter movement, the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, and the various institutions that have systematically oppressed black people for centuries. He confronts and analyzes these issues within his own experiences as a young black man growing up in Baltimore as well as his time surrounded by black excellence at Howard University. It is through this analysis that Coates attempts to answer the many “whys” and “hows” that his son and people of color in general have been asking for years.
The idea that black bodies are so easily destroyed without a second thought and have been for years is such an important concept which Coates beautifully illustrates. Furthermore, Coates eloquently and accurately cites much of America’s relentless oppression of black as a way to keep the guilt free “dream” of white America alive because to acknowledge and validate the problems facing black Americas is to take responsibility for this continued oppression.
Coates repeatedly talks about how inspiring the words of Malcolm X were to him and frankly, Coates had the same effect on me. With each page, I found myself nodding and smiling because he verbalized and validated frustrations I couldn’t find the words for and brought attention to just how heavy the weight of centuries of oppression can be on people of color. To put it simply, I am incredibly grateful for this Coates’ words and encourage everyone and anyone to put this book on the top of your reading list.
5 out of 5 stars
“Enslavement was not destined to end, and it is wrong to claim your present circumstance–no matter how improved–as the redemption for the lives of people who never asked for the post humous, untouchable glory of dying for their children. Our triumphs never compensate for this.” –p. 70
“The truth is that the police reflect America in all of its will and fear, and whatever we might make of tis country’s criminal justice policy, it cannot be said that it was imposed by a repressive minority. The abuses that have followed from these policies–the sprawling carceral state, the random detention of black people, the torture of suspects–are the product of democratic will. And so to challenge the police if to challenge the American people who send them into the ghettos armed with the same self-generated fears that compelled the people who think they are white to flee the cities and into the Dream.” –p. 79
“This is your country, this is your world, this is your body and you must find some way to live within all of it.”
“Our current politics tell you that should you fall victim to such an assault and lose your body, it somehow must be your fault. Trayvon Martin’s hoodie for him killed. Jordan Davis’s loud music did the same. John Crawford should never have touched the rifle on display. Kajieme Powell should have known not to be crazy. And all of them should have fathers–even he ones with fathers, even you. Without its own justifications, the Dream would collapse upon itself.” –p. 130-31