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Friday, January 13, 2017

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: A Review by Warren Bull

Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: A Review by Warren Bull

This book is in the form of a letter from the author to his adolescent son about living as a black man in America. It is heart-rending, awe-inspiring and well deserving of the National Book Award for Non-fiction, the NCAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, the Pen/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay and the other honors it gathered.

I am well aware that I have not shared the experience described in the book. I cannot understand it as the author and his son do. I have lived in places where my pale skin and blue eyes marked me as a member of a minority — Caucasian. I have worked where if someone came in and asked for, “that white guy” he or she was looking for me. I have worked for and with African-Americans. As a therapist, I have been honored to hear the life story of many African-Americans. And much of this book is new to me. 

This is an honest account. It was sometimes not easy to read and it raised my emotions throughout.  For a glimpse into the black experience, I give this my very highest recommendation. As Toni Morrison said, ”This is required reading.”


Linda Rodriguez said...

I agree, Warren. It is a modern classic. Pair it with Claudia Rankine's Citizen for a real education.

Shari Randall said...

Another book that I am eager to read. Thank you, Warren!

Gloria Alden said...

Thank you for this recommendation, Warren. It's something I want to read. I've written it down to order. I think it will be something I'll choose for my book clubs to read, especially the one with one member who has shown signs of prejudice.

Art Taylor said...

I've heard so many great things about this book, from so many different people. Thanks for reminding me that I need to read it myself!

KM Rockwood said...

Like Art, I have been meaning to read this book.

I had one supervisor who vowed (in a staff meeting) to fire "all the white folks." Fortunately, someone recorded her saying this, and while the recording might not be admitted to court, since she did not consent to it, when it was played to the coordinator of our reasonably powerful union, he was able to get a transfer out of that worksite for anyone who wanted it.

I have not, however, experienced the day-to-day problems encountered by many of my friends, things like the offense of "driving black."

And there's a video somewhere of an Officer Friendly-type talking to a group of teens in a high school about dealing with the police. His first statement was, "First, try not to be black or Hispanic."

Because I know I can't even begin to understand, much less internalize this situation, I am extremely hesitant to include many minority characters in my books, although I do have several.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

on my list. Thank you, Warren!