Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015) As a young kid at some point I thought about my family history, why there is no record or memory of it, kind of blithely imagining wanting to cover up a romantic past of cartoon pirates plundering for our fortune. Then later I thought, maybe we were from criminals. But only recently had it occurred to me that this relative wealth and comfort in which we live is a direct result of genocide and exploitation of slave labor, not very long ago. The more you learn, the worse it gets, and climbing into a hole of anesthesia only works for so long. As human beings, we are thinkers, constantly weighing what we've learned with what we've always felt, and as thinkers we are in continuous evolution. I believe that anyone will find something in this book that changes the way they think, to some degree, if not a lot. The book is written in the form of a letter from Ta-Nehisi Coates to his young son, and much of it is fueled by anger inspired by experiences, including his upbringing in Baltimore and later the murder of a friend by the police. There is much to not feel good about, but ultimately I found the book inspiring because there is poetry in the honesty and direct closeness you feel with his grappling with the knowledge of atrocity along with inspiration from the beauty still evident in the world. Also, it led me to read James Baldwin's essay, “On Being White . . . and Other Lies,” which, if you haven't read it, makes a useful preface to this book.