Wednesday, February 2, 2011
TNC, the Beautiful Struggle, Chp. 2
Among other things, Coates mentions the troubles of his city: "When crack it Baltimore, civilization fell" (29). And there was the ever-present violence. The young Coates listens as his dad explains how things were rough when he was younger but not nearly as dangerous as things were for a younger generation of black men. "I didn't fully get it then," writes Coates, "but this was an inglorious turn. The word was filled with great causes--Mandela, Nicaragua, and the battle against Reagan. But we died for sneakers stitched by serfs, coats that gave props to teams we didn't own, hats embroidered with the names of Confederate states. I could feel the falling, all around" (30).
We'll have to be sure to point out to the young brothers next year how much research Coates put into writing about his own life.
For instance, his observation that "I didn't fully get it then" suggests that he did "get it" later. When? How? There's suggestions here and there throughout the book that he gained knowledge later in life that allowed him to look back on his childhood and put things in context in illuminating ways.
I've been fascinated throughout that all the struggles, Coates had a particular edge, namely "conscious" parents.
Thus, along with his siblings "we were pushed through science camp, music lessons. Thick books were hurled at us from across the room" (30). Although his older brother, Big Bill, "saw himself strictly in the mode of athletes and rappers, and put no value on his own intellect and bookish wits," their father "struggles to make Bill see what he covered with a street pose, what he didn't even know was there."
Anyway, so just a couple of things. What else are people thinking about chapter 2 of the book? What's something we might want to note for the reading group who'll cover the book in the fall?
T. Coates's Beautiful Struggle, Chp. 1
Ta-Nehisi Coates the blogger vs. Ta-Nehisi Coates the memoirist