This week the topic is racism and I am starting with Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This book was sitting on my wait list for months before it finally got to me. I will admit some things before I get into the book. First, I recognize my perspective as a privileged white woman. Second, I believe racism is so ingrained in our culture that many don’t often see it, even when it is happening right in front of our eyes.
What you should know:
- This is a reflection on experience, with elements of a memoir in it.
- This is about race and the experience of racism.
- This is written as a letter or story to his son.
I decided not to do discussion questions for this book. Why? Most of them are much too heavy for this blog. Most would require a deeper level of research and a conversation that I can’t do alone. This book is powerful and forces the reader (or listener in my case) to really consider what we know about the world.
What did I take away from it? Coates has a soft place in my heart as the child of a librarian. His mother, when he got upset or misbehaved, forced him to write out what he felt. He and I share only these connections though. Everything else about his world is foreign to me. Not only that, what I do know of that divide is limited by a culture designed to ignore and dismiss. Coats reflects on his own experiences, those of people he knows, and those he sees in the world.
In the end I took away the realization that even with all I know about the world, I still know so very little because my own perspectives, experiences, time, and interests limit me. Yet, at the same time, my willingness to learn and his willingness to share allow me and others to gain a new understanding. This is why reading and writing are so critical. It allows us to connect with people and help them understand new things about the world.
I am so glad I got to read this book.
Who Will Like:
- People who want to understand the current racial situation from the point of view of a black man.
- Those who enjoy books about social justice.
Other Books Finished this week:
- New and Selected Poems, Vol. 2 by Mary Oliver – because April was National Poetry Month. I am not a fan of poetry, but I did enjoy those about her dog because I am one of those people now.