‘Between the World and Me’ Review

‘Between the World and Me’ is a Powerful Narrative on What it Means to be Black in America


Ta-Nehisi Coates is a correspondent for The Atlantic and an author of several novels, including “The Beautiful Struggle” and “We Were Eight Years in Power,” both books about being a Black man in America. His memoir, “Between the World and Me,” is a profound narrative on the experiences of Black men in America. Coates is a modern-day James Baldwin, his prose a passionate call for change towards racial equality in America.

In Coates’ “Between the World and Me,” he writes to his son about the hardships he will face as a black man in America. This memoir captures the adversity and difficulty Coates has endured himself, and talks about those around him as well, focusing on the death of a man from his college, Howard University. Prince Jones, 25, was fatally shot 8 times after Officer Carlton B. Jones fired 16 shots at his car. He was later prosecuted and a jury found that Jones was negligent and could not have possibly believed his actions were lawful.

“Race is the child of racism, not the father,” Coates writes in this thought-provoking narrative, riddled with criticisms of American and European colonization, imperialism, and violence that they now incriminate those same communities they decimated for.

This novel shines a light on the discrimination faced by African-Americans in this country, with Coates’ repetition of Prince’s story, and the stories of so many others who were killed by police officers in the United States. He offers a powerful new narrative with which to understand our nation’s history and the current crises we face. Its blunt nature shows the jarring reality of police violence in this country, and the ways that the United States government funneled drugs, gangs and violence into predominantly Black communities then persecuted Black Americans for engaging in those very things. 5/5 stars because Coates was thought-provoking, blunt, and characteristically well-spoken, even when talking about the worst topics. “Between the World and Me” is required reading.

Since the United States government’s recognition of Black History Month in 1976, every February we have acknowledged powerful forces for racial justice like Malcolm X, Audre Lorde, and Martin Luther King Jr. In the Shawnee Mission South community, to appreciate the contributions of these individuals, the Black Student Union has posted quotes around the school from prominent figures and cultural icons in Black history. There has also been a quote from a famous Black individual read on the announcements every day. In order to further celebrate the importance of Black men and women in American society, we must continue to elevate the voices of these people, and encourage new forces of change to come forward and speak up about issues they care about. South’s BSU has given a platform to these people, and will hopefully continue to speak up about issues and important events in our community.