I can’t say enough about this book. It’s been on my to-be-read list since it came out. However, I knew I needed to give it my full attention. So, as a mother of a one year old and two year old, I waited until taking a solo trip to read this one. I can remember sitting down with a few books to read the first few pages of each and determine my next read. After picking up Between the World and Me the next thing I knew I was more than 30 pages deep entranced by the writing. But of course, I interrupted by the end of naptime. So finally, during a 48hr trip to Idaho the hours spent waiting in airports and on planes were just what I needed to focus fully on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me.
The writing is so beautiful, so powerful, so approachable yet weighted with context and complex meaning. And that’s just the beginning. It’s beautifully written, yes, but the message Coates is writing is beyond. Not since reading James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time in college (another must-read) have I learned so much, underlined so profusely, or been as affected by the testimony of another’s life. In reading this book there were times I was made uncomfortable, angry, sad, inspired, hopeful, regretful, and everything in between. Great books are new stories about unfamiliar people that make you feel things you didn’t know you were feeling. Or things you need to feel. This is a great book. And the added layer that this book is Coates’ letter to his adolescent son as a black man in America makes the reading all the more powerful.
I don’t care if you’re interested in non-fiction, if you’re looking to learn more about race in America, if you know nothing of this book or its author—READ IT! This story is one we need to read, and keep reading more of. But if I can’t convince you, maybe some of Coates’ words can….
“But race is the child of racism, not the father.”
“…The Cabal, The Coven, The Others, The Monsters, The Outsiders, The Faggots, The Dykes, dressed in all their human clothes. I am black, and have been plundered and have lost my body. But perhaps I too had the capacity for plunder, maybe I would take another human’s body to confirm myself in a community. Perhaps I already had. Hate gives identity. The nigger, the fag, the bitch illuminate the border, illuminate what we ostensibly are not, illuminate the Dream of being white, of being a Man. We name the hated strangers and are thus confirmed in the tribe. But my tribe was shattering and reforming around me. I saw these people often, because they were family to someone whom I loved. Their ordinary moments—answering the door, cooking in the kitchen, dancing to Adina Howard—assaulted me and expanded my notion of the human spectrum.”
“And still I urge you to struggle. Struggle for the memory of your ancestors. Struggle for wisdom. Struggle for the warmth of The Mecca. Struggle for your grandmother and grandfather, for your name. But do not struggle for the Dreamers. Hope for them. Pray for them, if you are so moved. But do not pin your struggle on their conversion. The Dreamers will have to learn to struggle themselves, to understand that the field for their Dream, the stage where they have painted themselves white, is the deathbed of us all. The Dream is the same habit that endangers the planet, the same habit that sees our bodies stowed away in prisons and ghettos.”
I urge you to put this on your list, and I hope you get as much from it as I did!