Title: Between the World and Me
Author/Narrator: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Length: ~3.5 hours (152 pages)
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau; Penguin Random House Audio
Release Date: July 14, 2015
Source: Libby app
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.
This is a powerful memoir written as letters from father to son about racism in America. I highly recommend adding this to your list of anti-racist reads. A major theme of this memoir is how “the dream” in America is built upon the plunder of Black bodies in both overt and more covert ways.
Coates recounts how his person experiences shaped his relationship to his own Blackness throughout his life. He describes how his understanding and identity evolved over time from growing up in Baltimore to being a student at Howard to moving to New York City with his wife to traveling to Paris and more. His firsthand account experiences with racism and injustice involving himself and people close to him illustrate how deep and widespread racism is in America if you know how to look for it. This book is incredibly important and well-written, and very eye-opening for those with different experiences who are committed to anti-racism.