Friday, November 20, 2015

"Between The World And Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates - Echoes of James Baldwin

"Between The World And Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates struck me in much the same way that the early writings of James Baldwin hit me in the solar plexus when I first read them.  This book takes the form of a long letter sent by the author to his adolescent son, describing his view of their place in the world as Americans of color.  It is strident, angry, insightful, infuriating, humbling and eye-opening. Mr. Coates shares from his protean views of the world based on his sojourns in places like Howard University, Paris, the South Side of Chicago and his current home in New York City.

I agree with Toni Morrison's assessment that this book should be required reading for anyone who wants to attempt to see the world through the eyes of a Black man who feels that at any moment forces beyond his control may succeed in gaining access to his body and cause him to do things he does not wish to do and be things he does not wish to be.  In the ongoing clash of ideas between "Black Lives Matter" vs. "All Lives Matter," this very personal observation shines a bright light on one thinking man's experiences of running the gauntlet of segregation, racism and marginalization.

This book is not only a very personal and reflective gift to young Master Coates from his father, it is also a generous contribution to the discourse we should be having with one another about issues of race in America.  The experiences and reflections that this author shares are both timely and timeless. I have a friend who is using this book in a course he is teaching at the University of Texas.  It is my hope that "Between The World And Me" will become part of the syllabus for most of us in the School of Lifelong Learning.



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