Unless you’re Black, you cannot truly know what it means to be Black in America. Coates shares the distance between his experiences as a Black man and the white world that sets the rules and norms.
Even though slavery was abolished and racial discrimination is illegal, racism still exists. Just because something doesn’t specifically use race as a reason doesn’t mean it’s not racist.
The traditional education system is usually white-run and not relevant to the Black experience. Places like Howard University offer a small sanctuary for Black people to find their own identity that isn’t just a reaction to how white culture defines them.
The justice system disproportionately impacts Black men. Incarcerated more often and assumed to be criminals without having broken any laws, institutional racism is present in policing, courts, and prisons.
Violence is a constant in Black lives. There is always a threat of unexpected and unwarranted violence. And it does not come with the protection of justice.
But Coates wants his son to join the fight. Rather than give up or accept the woes of mistreatment, he sees the potential for better. But it is a fight that must continue.
About the Author
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a Baltimore native. His mother was a teacher and his father was a librarian and publisher.
An interest in writing and publishing blossomed at an early age. As a child, his mother made him write essays when he behaved badly. His father worked with Black Classic Press and was a former Black Panther.
Despite attending Howard University, Coates never got his degree. Despite being the only member of his family without a college degree, he has received the MacArthur Genius Grant.
Between the World and Me was his second non-fiction book and he won the 2015 National Book Award for it. Coates wrote a novel The Water Dancer and has written for the Marvel Comics series Black Panther and Captain America.