Have you ever picked up a book and not be prepared for where it would take you?
Being an individual that feels we can always learn from other's perspectives, I wanted to find a book that calmly shared life experience that is different than my own. (In reality I believe EVERYONE experiences life differently, but I digress.)
In Between the World and Me, the reader is transported into the vision of Coates. He is responding to questions that his adolescent son has asked, and the responses take you through a journey. A journey that everyone can benefit from by seeing his perspective if only for a moment. Personally I am Southern Italian and Native American with other ethnicities sprinkled. I have experienced prejudice and bullying. I was that teen driving the car in the "wrong" area of town (mind you I lived not far from where I was and a block from where I worked.) I have been called discriminatory names. BUT what I have experienced pales in what Mr. Coates shares.
I appreciate the biographical nature of the book, being that it is what the author has experienced and witnessed. It's matter of fact, yet not cynical. The crafting of the book as a letter has the intimacy of a personal journey which allows what is shared to have a humanization. This view extends beyond Coates and shines on the victims and survivors of racism. With Coates, you are forced to reflect on the singularity, the potential and preciousness of every life impacted by the Middle Passage, Bloody Sunday or killer cops.
Through this weaving of words, Coates issues a call out to those that have benefited by the systemic issues in America to make a change. We are to do better. Our darker skinned brothers and sisters will survive, they are survivors, it however is up to all of us to improve.
I could not agree more with the quote on the cover by Toni Morrison - "This is required reading."
P.S. This book to me harkens to the first time I watched "Boyz in the Hood." It opens your eyes and, if you allow it, it will open your mind.