"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.