Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The weight of the world is heavy, it is not kind, and it is even harder to forget. In Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, this weight of the world is manifested through vivid and passionate words. He re-frames the stories we’ve read everywhere else about the American Dream. How this delusion places humanity on a pedestal and designates the role for each one. In his own words, “But race is the child of racism, not the father. And the process of naming “the people” has never been a matter of genealogy and physiognomy so much as one of hierarchy.” The book highlights the neglected and shunned history of America, the discrimination, the brooding falsehood that binds the bodies that live within it.

Translating emotions on paper is like revisiting a long-ago memory, enough to submerge you in its sentience and necessity. What rises up to the surface is a shadow of your past self communicating with your present self. Time’s boundaries become blurred but you are still aware of how they manipulate the shadow lines and how they fall, one on top of the other.

Between the World and Me, which is an open letter from Coates to his son, evokes the path of growing up; of each passing year bringing a new revelation, a new lesson. So unique and reassuring is this experience of living that it shapes one’s essence and substance. And yet it’s never the same for any two people. Even if the soil that holds the seed in its palms remains the same.

This open letter is painful, beautiful, and endearing. Ta-Nehisi Coates mixes nostalgia with redemption and paints a much bigger picture for the truth that is the American Nightmare. The unimaginable injustices, the wakeful agony that lulls people to sleep far and away, erased and invisible, from dreaming in the wake of a more prejudiced and enslaved Dream. That, and the way Coates typifies his childhood for his son’s, has overwhelmed me in a way letters rarely do.