“Here is what I would like for you to know: In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body—it is heritage.” Ta- Nehisi Coates
Between the World and Me is a captivating and powerful series of letters written by reporter Ta-Nehisi Coates, describing in a harsh and raw manner the struggle of the black people in America, the brutal reality many are forced to exist in and the systematic destruction of the bodies and spirits of black Americans.
It is a book that will resonate with you long after you have finished it because of the personal way Coates pours his soul into the book. The letters addressed to his son are a lyrical work of art despite the heartbreaking and sad truths he shares. He describes in great detail the flaw that he believes is the American dream. Emphasizing again and again through the different passages and stories that America is based on one thing and that is fear. Fear of the white people from the black people, fear of the black people from the oppression of the white people, fear of the system failing the people and the fear that the people will realize the system is failing them.
The tone in the first half of the book is of defeatism, of sadness and despair and as a reader you feel all these emotions seep into you as you go on. The theme of “Black Lives Matter” is not a new one, many writers and speakers have shed light on many of the same topics Coates addresses in his book. The difference with his approach is that he does not sugar coat it and his interpretations and choices of words make even the most common of facts more touching and personal.
This book has been extremely controversial for many reasons. One of them being, which was also a question our Citizens explored, is Coates doing his son a favor by exposing him to his own experience or is he depriving him of the chance to see the world in any other way? This is a question you can only determine when you read the book for yourself. We all have our own perspective on sharing personal experiences and this book is packed with an overwhelming amount of generalizations and categorizations that not everyone might agree with.
This is a heavy and informative read, it can be a book that you will relate to on a personal level or a book you put down half way through and never pick up again. Either outcome, we urge you to explore it, if not for the substance of the book, then for the pleasure of reading such beautiful writing.