Thursday, September 22, 2016

Between the World and Me

"Between the World and Me" by TA-Nehisi Coates

I read this book because I'm trying to understand what is going on in our country with racial issues.  I want to learn, understand, and see other sides.  I'll admit this book was a bit difficult to read as I didn't understand all of it but I am glad I read it.  I don't necessarily agree with all of it, but it did give me some perspective that I didn't already have.  The author is a black man writing this book to his son about race in our country and what it is like to live as a black man.  Honestly it brought to my attention things I never thought of, things that I don't have to deal with or think about as a white person.  It opened my eyes and for that I am thankful because that is the reason I picked the book up in the first place.  "The crews walked the blocks of their neighborhood, loud and rude, because it was only through their loud rudeness that they might feel any sense of security and power."  These young black men acted this way because they felt so powerless in their world.  They put on such bravado outside because of how scared they were inside.  "I recall learning these laws clearer than I recall learning my colors and shapes, because these laws were essential to the security of my body."  He is talking about the laws of the streets.  These laws were of upmost importance to stay alive.  "'Good intention' is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream."  Good intention doesn't get us very far, a call to action is what is needed.  Good intentions can be our excuse to not do what needs to be done.  "The pursuit of knowing was freedom to me, the right to declare your own curiosities and follow them through all manner of books.  I was made for the library, not the classroom.  The classroom was a jail of other people's interests.  The library was open, unending, free."  "Slavery is not an undefinable mass of flesh.  It is a particular, specific enslaved woman, whose mind is active as your own, whose range of feeling is as vast as your own; who prefers the way the light falls in one particular spot in the woods, who enjoys fishing where the water eddies in a nearby stream, who loves her mother in her own complicated way, thinks her sister talks too loud, has a favorite cousin, a favorite season, who excels at dressmaking and knows, inside herself, that she is intelligent and capable as anyone."  Putting faces to slavery makes it real and makes it that much more important to realize that these were people that were harmed and beaten and treated cruely.  They are not something we can look past.  "Then the mother of the murdered boy rose, turned to you, and said, 'You exist.  You matter.  You have value.  You have every right to wear your hoodie, to play your music as loud as you want.  You have every right to be you.  And no one should deter you from being you.  You have to be you.  And you can never be afraid to be you.'"

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