Posted by sara about 1 year ago

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Part 1

I cannot honestly say that, before reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, I have ever thought so intimately and viscerally about the experience of inhabiting a black male body. I am debating whether or not to share quotes from the book that affected me most in future posts, but for now I will share the review by Toni Morrison, showcased on the back cover, the only preview into the book that begins to articulate the power behind Coates's words:

"I've been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died. Clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates. The language of Between the World and Me, like Coates's journey, is visceral, eloquent, and beautifully redemptive. And its examination of the hazards and hopes of black male life is as profound as it is revelatory. This is required reading."

Working my way through the pages, I did all I had done the past several months: I was enraged; I wept; I thought about the immeasurable privilege endowed to my son purely from the color of his skin. But it was not the same as reading or hearing the news. My life has changed permanently, because now I cannot turn my eyes away from the truth. I cannot live another moment in the complicity of what Coates poignantly calls "the Dream," in the false comforts of my experience as a seemingly-white person—a privilege concealing, if only at face value, that I am actually a Hispanic immigrant.

I am a Hispanic immigrant able to live in the Dream because of the color of my skin, the lightness of my eyes, and the years spent washing away my accent. Because I fell in love with a seemingly-white man and gave birth to a seemingly-white baby boy.

But "the Dream" is an illusion, sitting on a pedestal forged with the bones of others and painted in their blood.

It is not only that "the Dream" was manufactured through violence, though it was, but rather that continuing to live in "the Dream" is an act of violence in itself. It is complicity. And, ultimately, we will all be its victims.


This is not a leisurely nor transient act—this is severance from our old existence!