Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me

Book - 2015
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"For Ta-Nehisi Coates, history has always been personal. At every stage of his life, he's sought in his explorations of history answers to the mysteries that surrounded him -- most urgently, why he, and other black people he knew, seemed to live in fear. What were they afraid of? In Tremble for My Country, Coates takes readers along on his journey through America's history of race and its contemporary resonances through a series of awakenings -- moments when he discovered some new truth about our long, tangled history of race, whether through his myth-busting professors at Howard University, a trip to a Civil War battlefield with a rogue historian, a journey to Chicago's South Side to visit aging survivors of 20th century America's 'long war on black people,' or a visit with the mother of a beloved friend who was shot down by the police. In his trademark style -- a mix of lyrical personal narrative, reimagined history, essayistic argument, and reportage -- Coates provides readers a thrillingly illuminating new framework for understanding race: its history, our contemporary dilemma, and where we go from here"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Spiegel & Grau, [2015]
ISBN: 9780812993547
0812993543
9780679645986
Characteristics: 152 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm

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Racial Inequality: Suggested Readings

Inspired by James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time, one of the most important books of the decade is Between the World and Me. Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a letter to his son about racism and how it is being black in America. It discusses the identity, outrage, struggle and the reality of being black. A controversial topic for a NY Times bestselling book. The main reason why this book was so controver… (more)

Caught Reading: Brown Line, August 2015

Watch out Brown Line riders, I caught you reading this month! Your tastes run the gamut from fiction to memoirs to self-help, and they all look fascinating. So just what are you reading? In the follow-up to The Time Traveler's Wife, Chicagoan Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry spins a ghostly tale about the mysteries of life, death and love. Just before shipping off to war, a young p… (more)


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From Library Staff

With this brief and searing memoir, written as a letter to his teenage son, journalist Coates has written a modern classic that speaks powerfully to our current cultural conversations around race (e.g. the Black Lives Matter movement). Raised in Baltimore, Coates testifies to the experience of fe... Read More »

2015 National Book Award finalist for Nonfiction.

2015 National Book Award winner for Nonfiction

Outstanding Literary Work – Biography/ Auto-Biography

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ChiPubLib_Adults Nov 19, 2015

2015 National Book Award Winner in Nonfiction


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d
davidbspencer
Dec 14, 2020

I have to admit I’m not a fan. While Between the World and Me was interesting for its insights into TNC’s world and the PTSD that black boys inherit, I thought it was short on remedy or even coping strategy. Reviewers—black ones and white—from NY Times and The Guardian also felt it was significant but flawed in its hopelessness. Also, I dislike the overwritten style, too poetic for its subject matter, INHO.

j
joe_strnad
Dec 12, 2020

This is a must read. Coates tackles the issues of race in the US. Tracing the issues of today back through Civil Rights, Jim Crow, Reconstruction, the Civil War, and the trans-Atlantic slave trade. However, this book is deeply personal as his teenage son is the intended audience. We are lucky enough to see Coates bare his heart and share his life and experiences with the reader. He must write this for his son, in an attempt to explain why the killers of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin walk free. Coates also criticizes those who accept the rules of whiteness and who attempt to emulate it for their own profit and security.

"The Dream thrives on generalization, on limiting the number of possible questions, on privileging immediate answers. The Dream is the enemy of all art, courageous thinking, and honest writing. And it became clear that this was not just for the dreams concocted by Americans to justify themselves but also for the dreams that I had conjured to replace them. I had thought that I must mirror the outside world, create a carbon copy of white claims to civilization. It was beginning to occur to me to question the logic of the claim itself. "
Coates is criticizing the illusion of the "American Dream." (At first I thought he meant MLK's I-had-a-dream speech. But he is attacking the very ideal of American exceptionalism.)

"A society almost necesarily begins every success story with the chapter that most advantages itself, and in America, these precipitating chapters are almost always rendered as the singular actions of indiviudals... This is also a myth.

On intolerance and hate: "I am black and have been plundered, maybe I would take another human's body to confirm myself in a community. Perhaps I already had. Hate gives identity. The nigger, the fag, the bitch illuminate the border, illuminate what we are not, illuminate the Dream of being white, of being a Man. We name the hated strangers and are thus confirmed by the tribe."

"The spirit and soul are the body and the brain, which are destructible - that is precisely why they are so precious."

"Black-on-black crime is jargon, violence to language, which vanishes the men who engineered the covenants, who fixed the loans, who planned the projects, who built the streets and sold red ink by the barrel. And this should not surprise us. The plunder of black life was drilled into this country in its infancy and reinforced across its history, so that plunder has become an heirloom, an intelligence, a sentience, a default setting... To yell 'black-on-black crime' is to shoot a man and then shame him for bleeding."

"l saw that what divided me from the world was not anything intrinsic to us but the actual injury done by people intend on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do."

k
klodpm
Dec 10, 2020

Everyone in this country needs to read this book.

a
Audrey_1974
Nov 23, 2020

HBO has released a film adaptation.

q
QAGeek
Nov 19, 2020

Learned about this via Northern Magazine (NMU)

l
louie27
Nov 11, 2020

March

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Nov 09, 2020

I am grateful I've finally read this. Beautifully and thoughtfully written...and mind opening.

m
mjjoslin
Oct 27, 2020

As a white woman with a black Grandson I find a need to reeducate myself on American history. So much of the historical view leaves out the reality of this country for a good percentage of it's people. This is a book I will reread. This is a beautifully written letter to his son.

t
timsborden
Sep 28, 2020

I thought this was well worth reading. The emphasis on ‘the body’ resonated with ‘Black Lives Matter’; both making the most fundamental statement about personhood.

c
cort_66
Sep 10, 2020

Teens who have experienced racism as well as those who have followed the recent news coverage on violence against people of color can relate to this title. This book would bring an excellent discussion about race in America.

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Quotes

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n
nitsirklea
Jan 30, 2020

“I wanted to pursue things, to know things, but I could not match the means of knowing that came naturally to me with the expectations of professors. The pursuit of knowing was freedom to me, the right to declare your own curiosities and follow them through all manner of books. I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people's interests. The library was open, unending, free.”

a
abbi_g
Dec 27, 2018

For their innocence, they nullify your anger, your fear, until you are coming and going, and you find yourself inveighing against yourself -- 'Black people are the only people who ...' -- really inveighing against your own humanity and raging against the crime in your ghetto, because you are powerless before the great crime of history that brought the ghettos to be.

t
taylorwoods
Feb 17, 2017

“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. Difference in hue and hair is old. But the belief in the preeminence of hue and hair, the notion that these factors can correctly organize a society and that they signify deeper attributes, which are indelible—this is the new idea at the heart of these new people who have been brought up hopelessly, tragically, deceitfully, to believe that they are white.”

m
mucho_libro
Jan 14, 2017

I grew up in a house drawn between love and fear. There was no room for softness. But this girl with the long dreads revealed something else -- that love could be soft and understanding; that, soft or hard, love was an act of heroism.

b
blessedOne
Aug 26, 2016

"Never forget that we were enslaved in this country longer than we have been free. Never forget that for 250 years black people were born into chains - whole generations followed by more generations who knew nothing but chains."

s
starsabove
Jun 08, 2016

(This book opens with a quote from Richard Wright that contains the title of the book):

And one morning while in the woods I stumbled suddenly upon the thing, stumbled upon it in a grassy clearing guarded by scaly oaks and elms. And the sooty details of the scene rose, thrusting themselves between the world and me.

bickjd Apr 04, 2016

"Once, the Dream’s parameters were caged by technology and by the limits of horsepower and wind. But the Dreamers have improved themselves, and the damming of seas for voltage, the extraction of coal, the transmuting of oil into food, have enabled an expansion in plunder with no known precedent. And this revolution has freed the Dreamers to plunder not just the bodies of humans but the body of the Earth itself. The Earth is not our creation. It has no respect for us. It has no use for us. And its vengeance is not the fire in the cities but the fire in the sky. Something more fierce is riding on the whirlwind. Something more awful than all our African ancestors is rising with the seas…across the sprawl, is the automobile, the noose around the neck of the earth, and ultimately, the Dreamers themselves.” (150)

bickjd Apr 04, 2016

“…predictions of national doom. I had head such predictions all my life… [I knew] that this was all too pat, knowing that should the Dreamers reap what they had sown, we would reap it right with them. Plunder has matured into habit and addiction; the people who could author the mechanized death of our ghettos, the mass rape of private prisons, then engineer their own forgetting, must inevitably plunder much more. This is not belief in prophecy but in the seductiveness of cheap gasoline."

h
heidikay1
Dec 08, 2015

That was the week you learned that the killers of Michael Brown would go free… and I heard you crying. I came in five minutes after, and I didn’t hug you, and I didn’t comfort you, because I thought it would be wrong to comfort you. I did not tell you it would be okay, because I have never believed it would be okay. What I told you is what your grandparents tried to tell me: that this is your country, that this is your world, that this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.

s
shayshortt
Sep 17, 2015

“The pursuit of knowing was freedom to me, the right to declare your own curiosities and follow them through all manner of books. I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.”

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c
cort_66
Sep 21, 2020

This is a story that is in the form of a letter from the author to his 15 year old son. The book has 3 parts, the first part is about the author’s childhood and what it was like growing up in West Baltimore ghettos.

The second part of the book talks about the death of someone he met while attending Howard University, Prince Jones. He feels rage toward police brutality involved with his death. The author wants his son Samori to understand the weight and struggle he will have a black man in America. The author also goes to France and his eyes are opened to life in other parts of the world and how he fits in as he realizes how fear has damaged him.

The third part is about the author’s meeting with the mother of Prince Jones, Dr. Mabel Jones. She tells about her history and more about her son. The author wants to prepare his son and remind him to engage in the struggle for his own life as a black person. He wants his son to know that he is not responsible for changing white people to the struggle he sees.

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s
shayshortt
Sep 17, 2015

Violence: Murders of African American men

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