Vanessa's Reviews > The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood

The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates
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Mar 20, 12

Read from March 16 to 20, 2012

Oh man, I just love him. This is totally different from his blog/twitter postings, but equally awesome along a totally different dimension. I think the writing *occasionally* goes off the rails with some of the flowery, figurative language, but he's also trying to capture the essence of something that is hard to explain. I really appreciate this as a meditation on black masculinity and the experience of trying to grow into a man in the world where Coates grew up. Loved the super complicated relationships with brothers and fathers and classmates and girls. Also found the historical stuff fascinating. This is super personal but also really thoughtful about the broader implications of his own experiences. Sometimes I feel like I read a lot of articles about the prison-to-pipeline problem, or the problem of urban gun violence, or whatever delicate phrasing the media currently wants to use to discuss the experience of young black men, without hearing the voice or perspective of actual young black men. I could use more of this kind of thing.

"Nowadays, I cut on the tube and see the dumbfounded looks, when over some minor violation of name and respect, a black boy is found leaking on the street. The anchors shake their heads. The activists give their stupid speeches, praising mythical days when all disputes were handled down at Ray's Gym. Politicians step up to the mic, claim the young have gone mad, their brains infected, and turned superpredator. Fuck you all who've ever spoken so foolishly, who've opened your mouths like we don't know what this is. We have read the books you own, the scorecards you keep--done the math and emerged prophetic. We know how we will die--with cousins in double murder suicides, in wars that are mere theory to you, convalescing in hospitals, slowly choked out by angina and cholesterol. We are the walking lowest rung, and all that stands between us and beast, between us and the local zoo, is respect, the respect you take as natural as sugar and shit. We know what we are, that we walk like we are not long for this world, that this world has never longed for us."

Damn.

Really, really good. Recommend.
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