postscript to yesterday’s guest review

Pops wanted to add the following reader’s afterword to yesterday’s review of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me.

Coates can be seen & heard in numerous YouTube videos. The first 5-10 minutes of this sweeping discussion in Chicago describe significant elements of his writing process and inspiration; later, around 27:00, he speaks directly about the formative legacy of his father, from Philly, whose own father & his two brothers died violently, in a culture where the price of children not following the rules of both Jim Crow and the Streets “is quite literally death.” He also addresses the “Race” frame, mass incarceration, reparations, Obama, and other topics.

Just recently Coates has moved with his family to Paris, for several reasons he discusses on Democracy Now!. Notably, he describes how he is just beginning this journey of seeking to understand Race in western Europe (in the midst of immigrant persecution) and the perspective this adds in the US.

In general, an author’s device of writing to one’s children is a powerful one. For Black authors, see also James Baldwin’s short book The Fire Next Time (1962) – also cited by Coates as inspiration; and Michelle Alexander, who in The New Jim Crow evokes the misery of parents explaining unwritten racial taboos, speaks to her own son in a NYT Op-Ed, “Telling My Son about Ferguson.” Not far afield from Coates’ book’s finish is David Suzuki’s latest book where he describes painful truths about human damage to the Earth, in Letters to My Grandchildren.

Personal trivia: when Coates prepared for his Paris writing fellowship in 2014, he took a French course at Middlebury College in Vermont – a place with many personal family connections. One must imagine that was yet another expansive cultural experience for this voyager. He recently said he would be voting for Bernie Sanders for President in spite of earlier critique of his policies.

One Response

  1. […] Emancipation.” This is the one recently associated with the book title, compared to numerous other public letters by Black authors to the next generation. (This is a comparison where context is again important, as we are […]

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