[Between the World and Me]
"Still you are called to struggle, not because it assures you victory but because it assures you an honorable and sane life" (97) --Ta-Nehisi Coates
Coates continues relaying narratives and advice to his son, mos notably through accounts of incidents that he occurred when he son was too young to have remembered or understood. Coates also blends in discussions of the role of history and events that are beyond the control of African Americans.
What caught your attention most about the chapter? Why or how so? Please provide page numbers.
In this chapter, I think what struck me the most is his conversation about fear , yet again. He had learned so much in his Mecca, and was shown so much diversity. However, once he was back home the fear that plagued his life for so long resurfaced. Coates stated, "But when I got off the train nd came back to my hood, to my Flatbush Avenue...the fear still held(93). I think so many young people experience that very fear. They are given opportunities to better their lives, with education, yet when they get back home a cloud of uncertainty and fear takes over - Coates shows this brilliantly.
The part that stood out most to me was when the author stated, "To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he's doing is good"(98). This statement made me think of how our society is today. Many people are facing so many hardships and even extreme forms of cruelty. The only problem is the people who are administering these hateful crimes believe that they are in the right and that is the problem.
Coates philosophical description of time was truly fascinating. "The robbery of time is not measured in lifespans but in moments (pg.91)" Time is a non-renewable resource, once its gone, it's gone forever. The idea that racism and prejudice robs human beings, not just of dignity and equal opportunity, but time as well is as interesting as it is unsettling.
I found it interesting that Coates felt that he should pull his son from the "ethnic stew" of New York children, so that he may warn his son that he must be twice as better than some to get half as much(92). This is common in African-American culture and reflects the reality of achieving success in this country. Coates simply did not want his son to feel discouraged or surprised as he realized this. He also realized that it may be worse to take his son joy from him and allowed him to continue playing care-free.
What caught my attention was when Coates talked about the robbery of time on page 91. This caught my attention because as a child, especially when we lived in Chicago, I was told to always be careful of other people, even other kids. Don't take anything from anybody and don't give anything to anybody.
I never questioned this because it seemed normal not to trust people. But looking back, I don't believe breeding these feelings of mistrust were the right way to go. I missed out on a few things because of this mistrust in others.
On page 90-91 the author spoke about telling his son how he must be "twice as good" as his white counterparts. At the same time the child must be willing to "accept half as much" as his white counterparts. This stood out to me because this is a legitimate conversation that black parents must have with their children. Without taking the time to educate and exposing these children to mechanics of society, they could end up in trouble or harmed. I don't think many white parents tell their children to take twice as much, but I feel that many black children receive subliminal messages from their parents to prepare to work harder to achieve the same success as their counterparts.
The author Coates spoke of many stories in this section of the book, but one that stuck out to me was found on page 94. "This desire was only controllable because I remembered someone standing off to the side there,bearing witness to more fury than he had ever seen from me-- you." I have a tendency, like most readers, to feel sympathetic to what the author is feeling. When the woman put her hands on his child and others began to take up for her, I was outraged. I also felt for him when he saw the reaction/shock of his son after his reaction to the woman and the man who took up for her. Something that also stuck with me from the story was how part of him felt helpless and inferior to this women due to the color of her skin and the community the incident occurred in. It's certainly sad that one has to have those feelings of insecurity in the world we live in today, but of course it's still a problem we face as one of color.
"But you are human and you will make mistakes. ... But the price for error is higher for you than for your countrymen, and so that America might justify itself, the story of a black body's destruction must always begin with his or her error," (95-96) - Ta-Nehisi Coates. This is what Coates tells his son after he has reflected on the actions he did earlier in the chapter. This really stood out to me because I have seen black body's destroyed over even a single mistake whether it was through the media or own personal life. It's an unfortunate reality that black people are still have to act flawlessly in everything they do in order to avoid becoming another statistic or on the news.
The thing that surprised me the most was how Coates explained the prejudiced concept of having to be twice as good as others to even get half of the recognition that they do as an African American (92). This is interesting to me because unfortunately this same concept applies to society today. Though African Americans have made major strides towards equality, there are still aspects of life that we will not be considered "as good as." This shows how much harder it can be to achieve success and accolades being an African American than it could be for most other races.
The part that I could relate to, and was most intriguing when I read is when the author stated ," I tell you this because you must understand, no matter the point of our talk, that I did not always have things, but I had people" (88). This stuck with me the most because he wanted his child to understand that when times are tough, being around loved ones that support you will change the mood. No matter the situation, family will always be there. I can definitely relate to this because I have supporters and loved ones that are by my side through it all. Coates wanted his child to understand this deeply because life is not easy when you are living on your own.
the part that stood out to me the most was on page 96 when Coates said, "But the price of error is higher for you than it is for your countrymen, and so that America might justify itself, the story of a black body's destruction must always begin with his or her error, real or imagined." This part intrigued me because I thought of how all the cases that come out in the media seem to always be followed by some Photo from a Facebook account or drug test results that are meant to make the victim look like the bad person. Then It always seems like a couple days later the media is saying it's their own fault for being killed.
"The fact of history is that black people have not-probably no people have ever-liberated themselves strictly through their own efforts." (p. 96)
He goes out to show that nobody can liberate themselves. This shows that everybody needs help in life.
What stood out to me was Coates idea of the diverse Mecca, New York City. It was interesting how he compared all the different types of black people at Howard to all of the different types of people in New York City: Chinese-American dating blacks and whites dating Dominicans etc. Coates quick but charming way of higlighting the hipster mom and Pop Café feel of the West End area nd New York struck me as interesting, because I think he was really elaborating upon the mindset of the people who lived there; the constant inside joke that intelligence and education brings to a people.
After the incident with the white woman that pushed his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates goes on to describe the difference in the severity of punishment when different people make a mistake. “But the price of error is higher for you than it is for your countrymen, and so that America might justify itself, the story of a black body’s destruction must always begin with his or her error, real or imagined.” (96) Being a college student, I have unfortunately see and heard of many situations that support this concept. I’ve seen some of my white friends get away with a warning because a cop or whoever’s in charge just shrugs it off because “they’re in college. They’re just having fun.” However, when a black student gets into trouble, the punishment seems to always be a little more severe.
What caught my attention the most from this chapter was in the beginning when he talked about living in Brooklyn and struggling. On page 88, Coates says, "I tell you this because you must understand, no point of the point of our talk, that I didn't always have things, but I had people---I always had people." This can relate to many adults that were young and had a child. Hearing stories from my parents when I was young, they said that they weren't exactly struggling but could have been better economically. This part of the assigned reading shows you were Coates came from post-college and how it may not be easy to make it in this world, but he obviously ended up being a successful writer.
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