In the 150 years since the end of the Civil War and the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, the story of race and America has remained a brutally simple one, written on flesh: it is the story of the black body, exploited to create the country’s foundational wealth, violently segregated to unite a nation after a civil war, and, today, still disproportionately threatened, locked up and killed in the streets. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can America reckon with its fraught racial history?
Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ attempt to answer those questions, presented in the form of a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son the story of his own awakening to the truth about history and race through a series of revelatory experiences: immersion in nationalist mythology as a child; engagement with history, poetry and love at Howard University; travels to Civil War battlefields and the South Side of Chicago; a journey to France that reorients his sense of the world; and pilgrimages to the homes of mothers whose children’s lives have been taken as American plunder. Taken together, these stories map a winding path towards a kind of liberation—a journey from fear and confusion, to a full and honest understanding of the world as it is.
Nope. Sorry. I didn’t like it. I wanted to. I really wanted to. Maybe I need to read something less angry and more coherent.
I don’t want to be on the receiving end of some horrid comments about how I just don’t understand because I’m white and therefore privileged. You don’t know what my life has been like so don’t judge.
OK, so my problem with this is that the author tries to simplify everything down to race. No social class, home situation, financial background, education level, just RACE. Some white folks have had really underprivileged lives. Some black people have had really fortunate lives. Not everything can be boiled down to skin colour.
A woman pushes your child out of the way, she might not be racist, she might just be in a hurry or your kid could’ve been in the way. You kick up a fuss and someone threatens the police, not because they’re racist necessarily, but because you’re acting like a prat.
Sorry but life isn’t as simple as black and white, there is a heck of a lot of grey (and other colours) in between.
Somewhere between 1 & 2 stars, because some good points were made, before spiraling off into a diatribe.
Finished on January 16th 2017
You can buy the book here if you wish: