Walking through this world as a Black man is something you will never truly understand unless you are a Black man. Ta-Nehisi Coates explains this beautifully in this book, written as a letter to his son. He weaves together the history of Black America and his personal experiences to paint a picture of the world today. This world is far from perfect, but it’s the one we are living in, which means it’s vital to prepare yourself to journey through it in the body you have been given.
Told in just three chapters, each section covers a distinct form of racism. (I’m not sure if this was intentional or simply how I perceived it.) In the first, we are told about more overt racism (the direct impact of slavery and Jim Crow); the second covers the incredibly damaging but less obvious systemic racism (black men getting pulled over for no real reason, for example); and the third touches on the sneakiest white privilege when Coates details an experience in which a white woman at an Upper West Side movie theater threatens to call the cops after Coates asked her not to shove his toddler son. The point is, these are all forms of racism and they’re all bad. And they’re not likely to go away soon. It is a harsh reality. Heartbreaking. It is Coates’ responsibility to prepare his son for this inevitability. Should he be saddled with such a burden? No. I wish this was not the world we live in. What this book does (and the format is particularly effective in this) is showcase just how hard it must be to bear this weight. It makes you want to lessen that burden. How? For non-Black people like myself, we take up space. Physically…emotionally. We need to make room. What would letters to our children look like?
5 out of 5 stars.
Pair with: Coffee, heavy on the sweetener.