"Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates - Book Review - Dana Chirps

"Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates - Book Review - Dana Chirps

"Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates - Book Review - Dana Chirps

"Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates was amongst the handful of books I purchased while doing brand research for a client of mine who focuses on social injustice. Coates wrote this book as a letter to his son, and details how race has played a part in America. He depicts both historical and recent events where innocent black lives were taken. Needless to say, it was very eye-opening. Below are some quotes that stuck out to me, along with my thoughts.

  • "Somewhere out there beyond the firmament, past the asteroid belt, there were other worlds where children did not regularly fear for their bodies. I knew this because there was a large television resting in my living room. In the evenings I would sit before this television bearing witness to the dispatches from this other world. There were little white boys with complete collections of football cards, and their only want was a popular girlfriend  and their only worry was poison oak." Ugh, anybody else have a weakness for children? It pains me to think of any child not having a happy and relatively worry-free childhood. I cringe as I imagine a kid distinguishing the "haves" and the "have nots." It also goes to show how a child of another race or nationality can feel separation and/or isolation quite early on in their life. They're just kids.
  • "Hate gives identity. The nigger, the fag, the bitch illuminate the border, illuminate ostensibly what we are not, illuminate the Dream of being white, of being a Man. We name the hated strangers and thus are confirmed in the tribe." This quote still has my brain swirling. I honestly am not ready to address this quote, but I wanted to share it as it is powerful.
  • “Black is beautiful – which is to say that the black body is beautiful, that black hair must be guarded against the torture of processing and lye, that black skin must be guarded against bleach, that our noses and mouths must be protected against modern surgery. We are all our most beautiful bodies and so must never prostrate before barbarians, must never submit our original self, out one of one, to defiling and plunder.” I do think the world at large is learning to embrace more forms of beauty. I am SO glad, too. I would never want anyone to regard one type of beauty as being superior to another. There is plenty of room for all types.
  • "Black people love their children with a kind of obsession. You are all we have, and you come to us endangered. I think we would like to kill you ourselves before seeing you killed by the streets that America made." The second sentence in this quote is what really stuck out to me. This was a concept I had never really thought of before prior to reading the book. Can you fathom having a child, and knowing that child is endangered for no other reason than his or her race? What a horrible concept for any parent to have to wrap their heads around.
  • "You have been cast into a race in which the wind is always at your face and the hounds are always at your heels. And to varying degrees this is true of all life. The difference is that you do not have the privilege of living in ignorance of this essential fact." I don't think this quote needs much explaining, but I thought it was stated perfectly.

I feel as though this is the kind of book they should read in high schools. It's heavy, and it's uncomfortable - but that is kind of the point. It's the reality of so many people. I encourage anyone who wants to gain perspective on racial injustice to read this book. I'd give this book 3.75/5 stars. 

See what else I've read here and here.

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Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.

"Hunger" by Roxane Gay - Review - Dana Chirps

Hunger Review Dana Chirps.jpg

I heard of "Hunger," by Roxane Gay because I saw someone that I work with post about how great she thought the book was on Instagram. It's not the typical book I would have chosen, but I was looking for materials to assist in the demographic and brand research for one of the companies I do copywriting for, and this fit the bill. So when I was state-side I went to Barnes & Noble, and purchased it. Many of my thoughts about this book cannot be addressed without discussing the plot. It certainly won't ruin the experience of reading it yourself if you know the plot prior, but in case you want to be totally surprised - stop reading this post now! :)

"Hunger" was the kind of book where after you read it, you're like, omgsh, I need to talk to someone. Before I get into the grit of this post, I want to acknowledge how brave I think Roxane Gay was to bare her soul so vulnerably. Truly. It takes tremendous guts to share such personal experiences and address the challenging topics she did so in her book. Equally as impressive was the manner through which she did. She is a brilliant writer.

The plot (again, STOP reading if you want to be totally surprised): Roxane led a fairly normal and happy life until she was 12. One day the boy she had a crush on led her into the woods, where they met up with his friends. They proceeded to gang rape her. She kept this trauma as a secret for a very long time. Her way of coping was eating. She wanted to make herself as undesirable as possible, so that she could feel safe. “I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I had been because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere. . . . I was trapped in my body, one I made but barely recognized or understood but of my own making. I was miserable, but I was safe.” She ended up at 6'3 and at her heaviest was 577 pounds. She goes into great detail about her life at such a large size.

There is so much of me that feels so sympathetic towards her. No person should ever be disrespected and violated in that manner, certainly not a child. It was heartbreaking to think a little girl was holding this secret in for years because of the shame and guilt. 

One of the most thought-provoking concepts Gay addresses was being labeled as "victim" versus "survivor." Gay prefers to use "victim," as a way to not lessen the severity of the trauma she experienced. Given how cavalier rape culture has become, I think she's made a strategically bold decision. This ideology had never crossed my mind before reading this book. With my two-time bout with cancer, I always took claim to the "survivor" label, and I do intend to keep it. I simply feel more empowered with that terminology. But I think every individual has the right to choose with term they identify with, and every scenario is unique.

"Hunger" also made me feel like I needed to take pauses and be more compassionate for other people. Generally, I feel as though I do a fairly good job at doing so, but this was a powerful reminder that people may appear one way on the outside, and be suffering on the inside. Gay gave several day-to-day struggles that obese people face. I was particularly bothered by the fact that there are doctors' offices that do not have proper equipment for obese people (for example, scales that don't support an obese person's weight). If there is ONE place that should be set up for all shapes and sizes, it's the doctors' office. 

This book was such a battle between Roxane and her body, and it reinforced the fact that our (American) culture is obsessed with weight, especially females. What we say shows it, what we eat (or not eat) shows it, what we wear shows it, advertisements show it... good grief, I could go on and on with so many more examples. But the discussion around weight is rampant. Although it is completely unrealistic, what if those conversations were all flipped into dialogue discussing happiness, health, and contribution to the world? It would certainly be a different world, and perhaps could even lead to a decreased obesity epidemic.  

Gay's book was a sharp reminder that weight-centric issues that most people have often have nothing to do with weight. Generally, it's a symptom of a bigger battle, a battle that is often internalized and private, that the outward world knows nothing about. If nothing else, I think everyone can afford to exude a bit more compassion, myself included. 

Overall, I'd give this book 4.5/5 stars. 

 

Comment

Dana Podgurski

Hi everyone! I'm Dana Podgurski! 

I'm a foot in the mouth, tongue in cheek, head in the clouds, and heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I live for new experiences, but am a total sucker for nostalgia at the same time. I'm tough as nails, but am a complete softie for all things kids and animal related. I fly by the seat of my pants, and live for adventure. But I firmly believe that adventure is a mindset that one's self determines.

For work, I am a marketer through and through. Bringing brands to life, and content marketing are passions of mine. Many would consider what I do as nerdy, but I seriously dig it. I have been doing marketing contract work for years, and appreciate the variety it brings, and the relationships I've developed with my clients. To check out my work portfolio, or if you're interested in a partnership, click here.

For fun I love to create - writing/blogging, photography, and painting are my main three mediums of doing so. Feeling good and healthy is also high on my list, as it really lends itself to making everything more enjoyable. So I maintain a very active lifestyle, eat pretty healthy, and am outdoors as much as I can be. And if my blog didn't make it abundantly clear, I absolutely LOVE to travel. I spend any extra money I have on plane tickets, and feel so fortunate to have been to several amazing destinations both domestically and internationally. There's nothing more fulfilling than coming home from a trip and adding a been-there-pin to my map.