“I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.”
― Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives. Thoughtfully exploring personal and historical events, from his time at Howard University to the Civil War, the author poignantly asks and attempts to answer difficult questions that plague modern society. In this short memoir, the “Atlantic” writer explains that the tragic examples of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and those killed in South Carolina are the results of a systematically constructed and maintained assault to black people–a structure that includes slavery, mass incarceration, and police brutality as part of its foundation. From his passionate and deliberate breakdown of the concept of race itself to the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, Coates powerfully sums up the terrible history of the subjugation of black people in the United States. A timely work, this title will resonate with all teens–those who have experienced racism as well as those who have followed the recent news coverage on violence against people of color.
I was in Baltimore during the riots in 2015 over what had happened to Freddie Gray. This was the time when the distance became real to me. I grew up in a small town in the middle of nowhere Michigan that was a very monochromatic community. I feel like with the current state of our world and the horrible events that have been taking place it is important for those to be educated. I had never experienced such hatred or discrimination first hand and was blind to it. I hate that this was the case and I want to be an ally and educate others. Coates allowed me to open my eyes even more and through his words feel his hurt and pain. It is a pain I will never truly understand and I do not claim to know how Coates feels, but I think this is such an important book for everyone to read. The writing is phenominal. It is so deep and raw and you can tell that so much emotion and time was put into this work.
We are all blinded by fear and have those perceptional lenses that were developed at such young ages. The way we were brought up and what we were taught is not always universal or right for that matter. The perception of race, right and wrong and even who we are and want to be was formed by our upbringing and our surrounding. With the coming changes in 2017 I think it is important for the U.S to take the time to try and learn and understand from each other. You can truly never know where the other person is coming from because everyone has had different backgrounds and experiences. It is books like Coates that can open the discussion.
This got a little deep for a book review and I did not go into everything I wanted to because I know this is a hot topic and I dont want anything I saw to be taken the wrong way because I am having trouble putting my thoughts together. I just believe that this was a truly moving piece of literature that should be a must read for everyone. I need to start reading more diversely and educating myself on everything that is not in my wheel house of knowledge or experience.