The Power of a Letter


As a journalism major, I am required to have a concentration which in turn makes me a double major. For my concentration, I chose Africana Studies. The simple answer as to why I picked Africana: I love being black and want to learn all that I can, both the negative and the positive, about the African/Black experience - past, present, and future. In order to do that, I have been reading more about black people by black people for (mostly, but not entirely) black people. One of the books I have recently read which falls into the category (and falls into the readers heart) is the following:


Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates


What Made Me Read This Book? I am an avid fan of Toni Morrison. So after seeing her quoted on the front of this book recommending the reading of it, I knew I had to listen to her. Plus, I'd been seeing this novel pop-up on a number of must-read lists for the black perspective/experience. Soon after watching Ava DuVernay's Netflix documentary 13th (which I highly recommend), I opened Amazon and finally ordered this book. 


In 2015 America, with reportings of innocent black people being shot and killed becoming as regular as everyday news, correspondent and writer Ta-Nehisi Coates decided to sit down and write to his young, black son about the realities of being black in America. As thought provoking as it is tear jerking, this open letter from a man to his child brings the past and the present together to explore the future of being a black man in America. Speaking on the bloody creation of this country and how black blood is still being spilled today, Coates is a realist in the facts of reality - no sugar-coating or optimistic looking for a better tomorrow through rose-colored glasses. This book is brutally honest and wholly needed.  


My Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯ - I will admit that sometimes I can struggle with reading nonfiction books. They lack the fantasy and dreaminess of YA novels and stories. And sometimes, we all need to be awaken from the dream. This book, with its complete stripping of the fantasy and highlighting of the nightmares which black people have had to live left me unable to put it down until I finished it. Yes, it wasn't always easy - but it was worth it. 


Why? While there were parts of hope and well-wishes for a better future in this novel, the majority of it was a honest (sometimes frightening) look at life in America as a black person. When you're often told how much progress has been made and how good black people have it now, complaints about how not great things are now can be overlooked. This book looks at those complaints, acknowledges them, and explores them. That is needed now more than ever when rhetoric of a "post-racial" America dominates the media and is untrue. Everyone needs to read this book, but more importantly, every black person should read this book. We can only get ahead if we know where we truly stand and what we're truly fighting for and against. 


Favorite Quote: "I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world."

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