Between the World and Me
In a book that takes the form of a letter to his son, Coates takes us through an autobiographical journey through his upbringing in the rough neighbourhood of West Baltimore. He paints of picture of a childhood centered around fear. One of hopelessness: If half of your brain is constantly pre-occupied with how you’re going to navigate the maze home from school, the wildlife of the school yard and keeping tack of the complex social hierarchies of the ghetto—how can you fathom what long-term good education can do to you? Long-term doesn’t even exist as a concept. If you see no successful examples around of people reaching for the Dream, enabled by education, what motivation is there? Why would you feel the slightest sense of motivation in the classroom? The “jail of other people’s interest”, as Coates puts it. Living in this world, the white children on TV whose biggest problem is how to kiss the most popular girl seem to live in a parallel universe.
This is one of the most moving books I have read. The stories are capturing. The perspective is much needed. Everyone must read this book.