I will not even begin to pretend I can do justice in reviewing a book as important as this one. Between The World And Me is beautifully written, quick to get through and extraordinary on many levels. Much has already been written about this book and my thoughts on it are only going to add praise to an already well-received and highly acclaimed piece of timely writing.
You absolutely should read it. Start today.
What I will say, however, is how the book made me feel. I cried, I crumbled, I felt nauseous, I shook my head up and down and sideways, I smiled, I felt ashamed of being human and, above all, I felt that I wish I had read this book – or one like it – when I was in my youth. I have frequently mentioned that my education was a bit of a patchwork and certainly one with gaping holes, in part because I quit high school at 16, but also because I tried to get out of a lot of classes and, ultimately, have played catch up ever since in some areas of knowledge.
When it comes to American history, however, I believe I ever only learned a tiny piece when I was in school. Certainly, I only heard the version as told by white historians. Even those who might have been well-intended, never told the full truth of the atrocities upon which our country is founded. Since leaving school, decades ago, I have educated myself and I now know these ugly truths.
I did not learn them just this week as a result of reading Between The World And Me, but Coates’ extraordinary book pulls so much of this history into fluid language and juts it against our current world in such masterful ways that one cannot help but see not only how wrong our forefathers were in their treatment of those stolen from Africa, but how wrong we remain today in perpetuating racism systemically.
On social media, particularly in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, we often see the phrase “stay woke, people” and I cannot endorse it wholly enough. Be conscious, be aware, be present. As a middle-aged white woman, I especially need to stay conscious each and every moment to check myself and make sure I do not feed our system any more energy that will harm others. This is not easy to do. But it is much easier than being a young black man in America today who has to fear for his life from the moment he wakes up until the moment he makes it home again at night. Nobody should have to live like this, but this is reality. I see the fear in so many young eyes every day when I walk down the street here in Brooklyn – the supposed hipster mecca and most sought after place to live, according to popular culture – but also one of many places where young brown and black men and women fear for their lives.
Do not take my word for it. Please read Ta-Nehisi Coates book, Between The World And Me, and decide for yourself if you are doing enough to be conscious in your own life and stop dreaming the dream, but rather start living in reality and working towards making it a better one for us all. #BlackLivesMatter