Tuesday, March 7, 2017
I just finished Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me, a book I'd read about and had wanted to try. It's a short book, could be consumed in one sitting, and I almost did.
Coates sweeps you up from the first words on the page and doesn’t let you go till the end. I don’t believe in reparations, don’t believe the chasm of race is as deep as he thinks it is. But then, I'm white. I am, in his parlance, a Dreamer, someone (white or black) who shares the dream of American exceptionalism that is built on the subjugation of the black body. Because the body is all, according to Coates. There is no savior, no soul or mind that lives beyond the body's end.
But I’m not writing about this book to debate its thesis but to marvel at its prose and its power to sweep me up in an idea I don't believe in and make me feel its force. His idea is an ocean wave, and we readers are the shore. Given time, it might wear us down.
I read this and think about my own story, my own lens. I don’t see the world in black and white, but I see divisions. The gulf between the moneyed and the non, for example, and the canyons that yawn between the left and the right.
The passion Coates brings to his story is the passion each of us can bring to our own.