Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
(Spiegel & Grau, 2015, 152 pages)
Reading Between the World and Me feels a bit like eavesdropping. The book is written as an open letter from Coates to his son. It frankly discusses some of the most important issues in American culture in an intensely personal way. By design, it is a communication that we as readers are listening in on. It is a memoir and a report on black life in America that is shot through with anger, wisdom, and warning.
Coates’ overriding message to his son is this: “In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body – it is heritage” (103). He illustrates this startling claim by rehearsing the country’s history of slavery, racial prejudice, and violence. More strikingly though, Coates explains how bodily danger has defined his life. From the cautions he had to take walking…
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