Wednesday, March 9, 2011

TNC, The Beautiful Struggle, Chp. 7

In the opening of chapter 7 of The Beautiful Struggle, Coates mentions that "You may note that all my references to girls have been brief, and mostly touched by failure. My catalog was comic." He then details some of his awkward incidents with girls.

In one description, he pinpoints that young women in these tough environments were inclined to develop tough exteriors. With all the challenges facing the women, guys would still have "the never" to "sidle up and ask why you never smile."
Who knew what this dude was holding behind those cold hazel eyes? Girls of Knowledge would shoot a nigger down without so much as eye contact, because they knew every smile, every infatuated act compromised security and handed us a weapon that we would only deploy for selfish use. So they made themselves into fortresses, and demanded that you drop your arms before they even thought about the drawbridge. They had so much more to lose (186).
I was moved by the ideas here for a number of reasons.

For one, I started thinking about all the young sisters have to lose and how knowledge of those risks can end up shaping how they have to operate. I also worried that a kind of knowledge of their exteriors could end up making them still vulnerable nonetheless.

And finally, I thought it was notable that Coates was addressing these issues. Folks have sometimes critiqued autobiographers by Frederick Douglass, Richard Wright, and Malcolm X because those works overlooked or mis-represented black women. I'm not saying Coates covers everything. But I think his work avoids some of the troubles of those other works.

What were some of your thoughts on Coates's discussions of women or any other important issues he raised in the chapter? What else might be focus on from the chapter?

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