In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives. Thoughtfully exploring personal and historical events, from his time at Howard University to the Civil War, the author poignantly asks and attempts to answer difficult questions that plague modern society. In this short memoir, the “Atlantic” writer explains that the tragic examples of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and those killed in South Carolina are the results of a systematically constructed and maintained assault to black people–a structure that includes slavery, mass incarceration, and police brutality as part of its foundation. From his passionate and deliberate breakdown of the concept of race itself to the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, Coates powerfully sums up the terrible history of the subjugation of black people in the United States. A timely work, this title will resonate with all teens–those who have experienced racism as well as those who have followed the recent news coverage on violence against people of color. (From Goodreads)
Personal Take: To say that this was insightful reading is the understatement of the century. These essays are a history’s worth of pain and oppression and the reality of being a person of color. Coates bridges different narratives, some personal, some from recent times, all coming together to paint such a broken tapestry of the world we live in, he and his family live in, and how this racism has gone on unchecked. What Coates takes on is complex, and so very wrought with emotions, I don’t think anyone could separate to find the real solution to it – if there indeed is a solution or an end to it. What struck me most in his words were how relatable it was. The feelings he conveyed feels very familiar to me, as an Arab woman constantly reinforcing what my identity is versus what the stereotypical idea of the UAE and Middle East is.
This book is a must read, as it give a very unveiled look at humanity, and what we are, and maybe by seeing through Coates’ eyes, maybe we can look to heal from the ugliness. Not forget, but heal.
Audience: For older audience, definitely, as some stories are just too heartbreaking.