Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me
“The birth of a better world is not ultimately up to you, though I know, each day, there are grown men and women who tell you otherwise. The world needs saving precisely because of the actions of these same men and women. I am not a cynic. I love you, and I love the world, and I love it more with every new inch I discover. But you are a black boy, and you must be responsible for your body in a way that other boys cannot know. Indeed, you must be responsible for the worst actions of other black bodies, which, somehow, will always be assigned to you. And you must be responsible for the bodies of the powerful- the policeman who cracks you with a nightstick will quickly find his excuse in your furtive movements. And this is not reducible to just you- the women around you must be responsible for their bodies in a way that you will never know. You have to make your peace with the chaos, but you cannot lie. You cannot forget how much they took from us and how they transfigured our very bodies into sugar, tobacco, cotton, and gold.”
Man, this book. It was on so many of my favorite reviewer’s top reading lists that I had to check it out. It is a short, quick read that packs a big punch. The book is written as an unapologetic letter to Coates’ son and discusses the realities of racism in the United States. The author studied at Howard University, and I wish I could have read this book before my time working at the HBCU Virginia Union University to give me this powerful perspective of what it is like to be an African American living amongst a perpetuating system of racism in the United States. I highly recommend this read as a way to educate ourselves on reality.