Hello Book Lovers,
I recently read Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I had never read anything from this author before, but I heard great things about it. I initially picked it up because I was attending a Book Club event at my local bookstore, and that was the book for the month.
In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?
Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.
“This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”
Between The World And Me is written as a letter/essay from Coates to his fifteen-year-old son, trying to come to terms with what it means in 2015 to grow up African American. From the moment I started the book I was blown away. Coates is an exceptional writer and has a great way with words. This book is a testament to what people of color deal with regularly. This isn’t to say that this is everyone’s experience, but it’s one that many have experienced in some form or another in their life. One of the things that really blew me away was how he referenced the body to discuss race and inequality. Coates shows throughout this piece how America holds itself to a higher standard then other countries, but has an extremely messed up society where an African American male has to walk with fear from the people that are supposed to protect them. Coates refers to white people as people who “believe they are white” or “claim to be white” which I thought was interesting because I didn’t just think of white people when he said that. I thought of people growing up in America claiming to be white but denying what’s standing right in front of them. The way he addressed his teenage son throughout the book was extremely powerful. It brought in a human element. He’s not just writing about this broad injustice, he’s talking to his black son who must confront a world where Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and others are murdered with brutal regularity. As you read it you can hear Coates talk to you and insist; you must struggle, but you must also find a way to enjoy it.
I recommend this book to everyone because it will open your eyes and hopefully give you a different perspective on what goes on around us regularly. This book gives some insight into what African American men, and women have resting on their shoulders. This is not to say this is what everyone goes through, but it’s what Ta-Nehisi Coates has noticed in his own experiences.