Between the World and Me showed me how a father is suppose to talk to his son and guide him through this crazy world we live in. Let me be open and honest. My father and mother split when I was 4 years old. My mother made a decision that she felt was best for my brother and I at the time. Alcoholism has had a tenacious grip on my family for years. My grandfather battled with it and, in turn, carried it on to my father. My devoted mother didn’t want my father’s actions to impact our future, so she decided to leave the relationship. My dad was there for us from time to time as we grew up but he wasn’t there all of the time. He wasn’t there the nights I needed advice on how to deal with my first heartbreak or the night I dealt with my first bout of racism up at Penn State.
Ta-Nehisi Coates does a tremendous job of blending his past experiences and relating them with today’s tragedies to teach his son how to maneuver in a world full of dreamers. Black men and women should take the time to read this book because of the essential life lessons that he provides. Here are three quotes that stood out to me.
“Very few Americans will directly proclaim that they are in favor of black people being left to the streets. But a very large number of Americans will do all they can to preserve the Dream.”
Very few white people will be in your corner when life punches you in the face. A very large number of them will do all they can to protect their families and their way of life. They will protect their white friends, their money and their homes.
“My work is to give you what I know of my own particular path while allowing you to walk your own.”
He has to give his son what he has experienced and what he has learned from it but ultimately he has to let him experience life and learn on his own to truly become the man he wants to be.
“The birth of a better world is not ultimately up to you, though I know, each day, there are grown men and women who tell you otherwise.”
Changing the world isn’t up to us — even though people will tell us it is. A simple police stop can change our lives in a matter of seconds, so we have to protect our bodies twice as much as our counterparts. We have to be on alert all the time in the city and in the suburbs while our counterparts live in their safe spaces. They have to change first before anything positive can truly happen.
Those three quotes struck a chord inside of me because my father never told me those things. This piece isn’t to take shots at him. I love him to death. Instead I want to highlight the incredible work that Ta-Nehisi Coates has produced. I hope to become at least half the man that he is. In this day and age, we need someone to help guide the minds of young black children. I think this book does a tremendous job of doing just that.