So here we go.
A few of the folks in our black studies crew are reading or have read Ta-Nehisi Coates's memoir The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood.
He began as a journalist publishing articles with various newspapers and magazines. In 2008, he published this memoir, and shortly after that, he began blogging on weekdays over at The Atlantic Monthly's site.
I've followed Coates's blog closely for two years now, and I'm convinced his one of our most important public thinkers. Or better yet, I've found quite a bit of value of following Coates (and his league of commenters) thinking about a range of ideas in public as he does (as they do).
Here, we plan to discuss a chapter or two of the book each Wednesday up through March. If you've read the book, please join us. We'll try to keep the questions fairly open, so even if you have interest in some of the subjects, feel free to jump in.
We have a long-term goal of introducing Coates's books to a group of first-year black men college students in the fall of 2011. So this discussion will serve as a public space for us to work out ideas about aspects of the book that we really want those new students to consider.
For now, let's look at the opening of the book and chapter one. The book actually opens with a map of the sections of Baltimore where Coates grew up. I'm going to collect my thoughts, but I'm curious: how does the site of a map, this map, at the beginning of the book affect or situate readers?
Coates begins the book with a dramatic scene of violence. That scene foreshadows a number of other similar scenes. The presence of violence in the lives of young men, and in particular young black men, and the damage, anxiety, and fear it causes is definitely a subject we'll have to discuss in more in-depth. What other topic or idea, briefly addressed in the first chapter, might we stay on the lookout to address in more detail throughout and later with future readers?
• March 16: TNC, The Beautiful Struggle, Chp. 8
• March 9: TNC, The Beautiful Struggle, Chp. 7
• March 2: TNC, The Beautiful Struggle, Chp. 6
• February 23: TNC, The Beautiful Struggle, Chp. 5
• February 16: TNC, the Beautiful Struggle, Chp. 4
• February 9: TNC, the Beautiful Struggle, Chp. 3
• February 2: TNC, the Beautiful Struggle, Chp. 2
• January 26: T. Coates's Beautiful Struggle, Chp. 1