Thursday 16 February 2017

Coates, Ta-Nehisi "Between the World and Me"

Coates, Ta-Nehisi "Between the World and Me" - 2015

A friend sent me a link to an article about two books, One Way To Bridge The Political Divide: Read The Book That's Not For You.

I started with this one, because my library had it. I hope they will get the other one soon because I don't really want to buy a book about conservatives.

Now to get to this book. It is fantastic. It shows the inner feelings and fears of a black guy, first for himself, then later for his family. He talks to his son Samori, tells him about his youth and what he did or didn't do. I think everyone should read this. There are so many great books out there to understand what people are going through, makes us all understand them better.

We all need to learn from history and move forward, this is one of the books that teaches us about it.

Every time I read about topics like this, I am reminded of the most famous quote by Martin Niemöller (1892–1984), a Protestant pastor who spent seven years in concentration camps for opposing the Nazis:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me. 

Let's all speak out for the oppressed minorities in any country.

From the back cover:
"'This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of i'.”

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?

Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward."

These are the two books from the article:
One Way To Bridge The Political Divide: Read The Book That's Not For You:
Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild is about Tea Party conservatives in Louisiana. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is about what it means to be black in America.


  1. I recently read this one too. My review will be posted in a few days. It hit me hard, it enlightened me, and being an American, it made me feel bad about my country. Well, I already have my views and I love my country but we have made many mistakes. I liked your review.

    1. As a German, I totally understand what you mean, I have lived with the guilt of my country all my life even though I know that none of my direct ancestors was involved with it.

      That's one fo the reasons I have a problem with being proud of your country, if you think being born into a country that has done great things makes you (not you but you know what I mean) a better person, being born into a country that has a terrible history makes you a worse one. I don't agree with it. We are born and it's pure coincidence where our parents come from. We can only try to be a good person all our life and not repeat what our ancestors or the people who happened to live in the same country as our ancesotrs did wrong. You didn't have a slave and I didn't kill a Jew but we have to make sure these things don't happen again, nowhere in this world. That's why I like to read these kind of books and then discuss it with everyone. And I know you have the same feelings, otherwise we wouldn't have met here.

      Looking forward to your review.

      Have a good weekend,

    2. You put that very well. Like a family or a workplace or a spiritual group, a member takes the good with the bad and tries to further the good and learn from the bad.

    3. Thank you very much, Judy, that is exactly what I meant.