Between the World and Me is a 2015 non-fiction novel written by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This book is written as a letter to the author’s teenage son regarding feelings, symbolism, and realities associated with being black. The book covers many different themes from racism to father-son relationships, to education, and much more! Overall, Coates explores the effects of racism and systematic oppression throughout this book. He talks about how racism has consequences and extreme impact not only on one’s mind but also on their physical body and soul. In his own words he writes “Not being violent enough could cost me my body. Being too violent could cost me my body.” He is writing to his son about this because he wants him to be prepared for the difficulties of being a person of color in America.
While reading this book, I encountered lots of moments of distressed feelings. From the alarming high statistics of jail for black men who drop out of school and the conditions some black people face but are somehow ignored by society, consistent racism and discrimination, and situations where fighting back or not, has a negative effect on the body and their life. Many of what was said in the book totally relates to the current events going on in today’s society with unfair treatment of the BIPOC community, such as police brutality and being stopped or arrested just because of someone’s skin color.
While it was a lot of content, I believe by reading this book people will have a better understanding of the world around them. Since the author talks about their personal struggles, the reader can gain insight into what troubling circumstances exist in BIPOC communities by learning from the author’s experiences rather than a news source. Between the World and Me was distressing yet inspiring at the same time. This eye-opening book should be on everyone’s reading list so we can make this world a better place for the BIPOC community.
By Thomas Caswell, Peace and Justice Center Intern