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July 2016: Biography Memoir > Between the World and Me/Coates - 4 stars

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message 1: by Anita (last edited Jul 06, 2016 05:14AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anita Pomerantz | 6671 comments Well, I'm almost afraid to post my review. I hid the entire thing under a spoiler alert (and that's partly justifiable). But I'm going to post it here because I do trust all of you, and I'm open to being criticized for my perspectives. It's just a very political book, and therefore hard to leave politics out of the discussion. And I'm white and freely admit I have no idea what it feels like to be Coates. This review is actually only my first impressions. I feel as though I may need to read the book again to refine my thoughts. It was a fascinating read, a tough read, and I'm very glad I read it. I feel like I'd be a coward not to post a review and yet, maybe it isn't my place to do so. Struggling.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 2: by Susie (new) - added it

Susie | 4488 comments Thanks for posting Anita. I'm 40% of the way through and need a break. I think the back to back memoirs are the culprit, but I am feeling a bit bogged down. I will definitely go back to it after finished something different.


Anita Pomerantz | 6671 comments Even though it is a short book, I found it needed to be read carefully. So it took me longer than expected, and then I still had to revisit sections to digest it. There's a lot in there that I really needed to think about while reading.

So I can see needing a break. I actually interspersed it with a novel, and that helped me!


Denizen (den13) | 1138 comments I'm very curious to read your review but will probably wait. Your introduction certainly piqued my interest. I have a copy on hold from a different branch and am expecting it to come in tomorrow.


message 5: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen | 1545 comments Anita- you shouldn't feel ashamed or feel the need to hide your review. I appreciate your candor although I disagree with many of your points. You raise some really interesting questions (hopefully many will be addressed in the discussion thread). I need a while to digest and formulate my response but then will respond with my thoughts about he issues you raise. I love these reviews because it give us a chance to discuss these important issues. Your review is thoughtful and intelligent and I think will lead to some good discussion.


message 6: by Nicole R (last edited Jul 06, 2016 06:33AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Anita, I think your review is very insightful and well thought out. And, like you, I find it hard to comment on the book because I am not black and cannot personally relate to the feelings of the author despite being aware and knowledgeable of them.

I do have a different perspective on one of your major points, His thesis - - white American power and success was built on the backs of black bodies - - is true. However, most Americans alive today did not impose that institution and many are not related to anyone who imposed it.

I do not disagree that people today were not the ones who imposed slavery, or that very few of people's ancestors were even in the U.S. at that time. However, while slavery technically ended with the Civil War, the U.S. formally and officially, as well as socially and culturally, instituted practices that were racist and purposefully designed to discriminate against black people.

Segregation, Jim Crow, housing ordinances, the list goes on and on. And, I believe, that what we continue to see today is the long-term effects of that. The long term effects of denying a certain group of people true equality. Of trapping them in the lowest socioeconomic classes. Of seeding distrust and hatred, with no options other than violence to resort to. Perhaps we even see the effects of these things more than we see the effects of actual slavery. (Though, of course, they are directly related).

And, I think it is important to recognize these traditions of discrimination in order to move forward. I do completely agree that the book is a bit bleak and offers little hope. I do have hope, but we have to fully understand the past in order to hope for something better in the future.

Just one reflection on your excellent review.


annapi | 5129 comments Excellent review Anita. I did not go anywhere near as deep as you did, but I felt the same unease and depression at his hopeless attitude and bitterness.


message 8: by Anita (last edited Jul 06, 2016 09:30AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anita Pomerantz | 6671 comments Nicole wrote: "Anita, I think your review is very insightful and well thought out. And, like you, I find it hard to comment on the book because I am not black and cannot personally relate to the feelings of the a..."

Thanks, Nicole, for sharing your thoughts gently and kindly.

You couldn't be more right on the historical context . . .I have to admit that I've read so much more about the Civil War period than the subsequent periods of discriminatory practices, but I know that here in Baltimore, there was redlining and other precedents that forced African-Americans into ghetto areas. So the lack of trust and the anger are all pretty understandable when set against that backdrop.

I think what puzzles me are a couple of things:

What purpose does Coates' message have for his child? As a parent, I want my children to feel empowered (even though I often have doubts about how easy it is to succeed and have concerns about the challenges they face).

The other piece that I struggled with in the book is the feeling that he was calling out other African-Americans (who have achieved economic success) as much as he was calling out Caucasians. Perhaps I'm reading more into it than was there, but my sense was he felt they were "thinking they were white" and were part of the oppression. I have trouble understanding that construct. Am I misunderstanding his message? I can pull out some quotes that made me feel this way.

I want to understand to the extent I can understand. I felt the power of his words and his passion for what he was saying. But my intellectual side is having a harder time embracing this book wholeheartedly.


Anita Pomerantz | 6671 comments Jen wrote: "Anita- you shouldn't feel ashamed or feel the need to hide your review. I appreciate your candor although I disagree with many of your points. You raise some really interesting questions (hopefully..."

Thanks, Jen. I guess I always feel these issues are so hard to discuss openly. Mostly because "who am I" to really be passing judgement (no matter how gentle or right/wrong)?

On the flip side, I feel it is important to hear other points of view and to try to dig deeper on hard topics. I'm hoping to do that here. It would be easier just to not even read these books, but I want to at least give myself a chance to shift perspective and to learn more.


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Anita wrote: "The other piece that I struggled with in the book is the feeling that he was calling out other African-Americans (who have achieved economic success) as much as he was calling out Caucasians."

I know the feeling you mean. I keep getting the distinct impression that he refers to "the dream" as you described: good job, safe home, etc. However, he seems to think of that as something only white people can achieve. If you are black and you achieve it (like many would argue he has), then you automatically view yourself as and act "white."

I do think it is a bit of a cyclical argument. He is passionate about things being better for black people and communities (though it doesn't sound like he actually believes it is possible) but then when individuals manage to achieve some level of "the dream" he turns on them and labels them white.

I will finish this audio on the way home and will likely rate it similar to you for the writing style (man, I love his writing) and for making me think about current social issues from a different perspective, but I am not sure what he hoped to achieve other than awareness.


message 11: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen | 1545 comments see question # 3 in our discussion thread :)

It is specific to this issue about "the dream" and hope


message 12: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen | 1545 comments argh, I have so many thoughts, hard to put down in one thread. I think Nicole addressed one of the areas where I disagreed with some of your points.

One thing, I don't think Coates dismisses personal responsibility at all and he acknowledges high violence in poor black neighborhoods. I don't think he states that the problems are necessarily white vs. black but rather a function of the overall system that was fueled as a result of slavery and that has continued to have long-standing effects on black communities today through policies and laws (many of which Nicole mentioned). Yes, the cop was black (in the example you referenced) but Coates repeatedly talks about how both whites and blacks act according to a system that stacks the decks against African Americans. And regardless of whether or not Prince had a criminal background, the simple fact of the matter is that this background was not a part of why he was stopped in a traffic stop and certainly not a justification for what happened to him.

back to personal responsibility. Like, I mentioned Coates doesn't dismiss this as important but he points out that for many black Americans, personal responsibility comes down to having to be twice as accountable, twice as smart, twice as good and I think that personal responsibility can only take you so far if the deck is so stacked against you.

I will answer the question about hope in the discussion thread because I don't see it as bleak as some of you did.


message 13: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen | 1545 comments actually, that's another question (I posted the question about the American Dream). Lol

anyway, I don't see the book being devoid of hope. I think Coates is being realistic to want to ground his son in the realities of the world in which he lives in but I don't think he is saying that there is no happiness or hope for his son. Quite the contrary. I think he shares the many ways in which he has succeeded and been happy and the ways in which his son can also succeed. But this letter is also a call to action and Coates points out (at the beginning with the anecdote about the reporter asking about room for hope) that many times this question of hope gets in the way of potential for real social change -- e.g. if we think that things are gradually getting better and that over time racial disparities will go away then we will not be motivated to take action. Action is born out of struggle and Coates is calling out to his son that the struggle is goal.


Nicole D. | 1496 comments I'm going to reply in the discussion thread, because it's about "the dream"


Anita Pomerantz | 6671 comments I will move my further thoughts over to the discussion area, but thank you for sharing some initial ones here . . .

On personal responsibility, there was a couple of quotes which made me feel as though Coates felt that the phrase was somehow one whites used to abdicate their ownership of the problems of black people in America. I will need to dig. The problem is I highlighted so much of the book that it was ridiculous. So much to think about!


message 16: by Sara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (mootastic1) | 770 comments I haven't read the book yet, but will soon. One of the things I noticed were both Anita and Nicole's comments about his being critical of blacks behaving like whites if they acheive any measure of success. However, Coates is a well known and highly regarded correspondant for The Atlantic. It seems odd to me that he would be critical of those who acheive success similar to his own. I am really curious what led you to this conclusion.

I should really read this book before reading more comments and reviews.


Anita Pomerantz | 6671 comments Sara,

I definitely got that distinct impression, however I also thought I may have been misinterpreting what he was trying to say - - so please read it with that thought in mind. The language is lyrical, so you really have to think about what is being said outright and what is being implied. That's kinda why I feel like I might have to re-read it.


message 18: by Nicole R (last edited Jul 07, 2016 05:45AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Like Anita, there is not a single passage I can point to that gave me this impression. And it is by no way a slam against Coates, his journalistic pedigree speaks for itself (I have read most of his work on mass incarceration).

After reading Nikki D's thoughtful comments on "the dream" in the other thread, I have refined my thoughts on my previous statement. Coates seems to refer to as "white" the black people who achieved "the dream" by abandoning, what Coates feels, is the essence of being black. I am not sure what that "essence of being black" is, but it does seem like he feels some people abandon their race in exchange for perceived security/success:acceptance/etc.

I think he goes on further to say that no matter how much you perceive yourself as "white" you are not. You are always perceived as black by others and you cannot escape the dangers that come with being black. The change must be for it to be safe for black people to be and act how they want without having to abandon their culture for a more "white" life in exchange for security.

I am not being very eloquent (very un-Coates), but referring to "people who view themselves as white" is a very prevalent thread in the book. It is more of a feeling I got when reading and not an obvious, literal statement.


Anita Pomerantz | 6671 comments The choice to read this book now seems to be eerily timely with the two horrific shootings in the news hammering home Coates message.


message 20: by Sara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (mootastic1) | 770 comments Thanks for your thoughts regarding that Anita and Nicole. It just stuck out to me as I was reading the comments and I wanted to understand more where it was coming from.


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Anita wrote: "The choice to read this book now seems to be eerily timely with the two horrific shootings in the news hammering home Coates message."

I was just reading about those!


Denizen (den13) | 1138 comments Nicole wrote: "After reading Nikki D's thoughtful comments on "the dream" in the other thread, I have refined my thoughts on my previous statement. Coates seems to refer to as "white" the black people who achieved "the dream" by abandoning, what Coates feels, is the essence of being black. I am not sure what that "essence of being black" is, but it does seem like he feels some people abandon their race in exchange for perceived security/success:acceptance/etc. "

I watched a Frontline on PBS about 20 years ago. It was about one of their producers who had been born to a white mom and a black dad in the late 50's I believe. The mom gave the little girl to a black couple to raise - the woman was a school teacher . The producer did spend some time every summer with her birth mother, however, she never met any of her extended family from either birth parent. The show discussed her childhood and then filmed her meeting her parent's families - white Utah Mormons and blacks from a large inner city slum. Contrary to her expectations, she was warmly greeted by the Mormons and rejected by the inner city blacks. The program ended with the thought that perhaps the bigger divide in America was class not race.

The show really had an impact on me and something I believe has held true many times over the years in situations I've observed. It's a filter I run things by. I will be very interested in Coates comments on the subject.


Nicole D. | 1496 comments Class plays a role that is for certain ...It is much harder for black people to break the class barrier than for white people.

With regard to "those who believe they are white" my son talks about this a lot, and he does it very articulately. Unfortunately, my brain doesn't retain it articulately. It reminds me of a quote I liked from Welcome to Braggsville, which was "Racism is a white man's problem. He started it, and he needs to fix it" In other words, there was nothing wrong with being brown until white folk decided it was to, essentially to profit from it. I think (and I don't know this for sure) that what Coates is saying is that white people believe themselves to be different/better because they are white, but it's as big a fiction as being black is less. Still not saying it well but if I ask my son about it, he'll get mad and demand I explain socialism to him and it all usually ends with him slamming a door. :) (he's told me that many times!)

There's another book, The Wretched of the Earth which talks about colonialism in Algeria. There were some great quotes in there as well ... you can read my review here. I think it sheds some light on the "believes he's white" thing (the book, not my review)

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


OK, I just asked my son, and only got mildly harangued ... in summary:

The concept of race didn't exist ...it was invented by imperialists to justify their actions (i.e. taking brown people's land for their own profits)

This is all very interesting because you think about what we learn in the US (as an example) about history, about politics about people ... We've been fed the line our whole existences and its hard to change our thinking. I admire everybody's willingness to take a lot at themselves and their attitudes, and to read this book which is harsh ... I get it, but be willing to see through that to the message. We are not less than, let us be us. Let us breathe ... let us swim.

Also remember that the history of these people is not just about slavery, as horrible as that was. It's also about everything which was stripped from them in colonialism which predates slavery.


message 24: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy | 9164 comments Friends, I deliberately have stayed away from what looks like an incredibly enticing discussion, until I could finish and review the book and put my own thoughts to keyboard. But after I post this on the ongoing discussion, I look forward to hearing and engaging in what I've missed. Let me start by saying that I am extremely glad I read this book, and the synchronistic timing of the recent horrific shootings has been uncanny. However, I did not necessarily like it. It made me uncomfortable, and I believe it was supposed to have that effect. I have to take responsibility for my lens, as Coats does for his. I am part of the white majority, and I cannot pretend to know what it is like to be African American at the time and era of Coats and his experience. I am sensitive that I write, think, and live with white privilege. I can say however, that as Coats describes, we only believe we are white, most of us are other things not easily or readily discerned. I have never been comfortable with the Caucasian box on forms and disclosures. I have always thought there should be a box for Semitic (Jewish), although Jews have never been considered an academic or racial minority, not due to our suffering and oppression in history, but due to our success. But as many other "white people" feel, I am not just white, I too have an ethnic and a history. I do not proclaim myself to have the same history and experiences as this author. Just to announce I have a lens. One that does in fact have white privilege, but it is my lens just the same. I thought about how Coats feels that society has worked for the destruction of black bodies, I equate this in Jewish history and lineage as (not all) some society, or societies working towards the destruction of our souls and spirits. But I move on…

I too have been writing a long letter to my children about what I think about the world, societal events. I have thrown my essays stories, my opinions, our family history, moral lessons, and letters and thoughts, and I recognize my aims have been different. Also, that I highly doubt much of it will ever get read. I am up to 800 pages, and I pity my future daughters in laws, as I deeply hope someone will go through it to extract what feels essential or useful. But my ongoing letter/gift to my children has the opposite tone. It offers hope, strength, resilience, and a chance to empower and make a difference. The essay I am writing now, is about choosing joy, choosing one's attitude to reflect how you want to best live, and making a difference in the world with that intention. Both this book and the recent events is a fascinating parallel to what I feel I have stood for. But again, i am lucky and blessed for my lens. Let me move onto the authors lens. Coates struggles with this, and I see quotes in his book, where he really tries to understand what it is he wants to communicate to his son, but who he wants his son to be, different from himself. On page 24, he states… "I have no desire to make you tough… I was always somehow aware of the price. I…. should have been concerned with more beautiful things." This sentiment is echoed often, that he as a journalist and as a black man coming of age, had a stand to tell, but this is not necessarily what he hopes for his son. He sees his son entering a struggle, oddly enough he named him Struggle, and wishes to offer wisdom and insight, and "consciousness." But I do think he wishes with some kind of hope for his son greater than what the world has been to him. I loved on page 88 when he wrote, "I always had people….. (and described how his community felt, and gave, and loved). You need to know that I was loved. Whatever my lack of religious feeling, I have always loved my people, and that broad love is directly related to the specific love I feel for you." There is no question he loves his wife and son, and in this way, despite the divides we two, we all are bound by that universality, despite our lenses.

More thoughts, before I move on…..Page 107, "I am sorry I cannot make it okay… You were born into a race where the wind is at your heels and the hounds at your back…. I want to offer you wisdom, consciousness for the struggle." Loved the portion about learning to ask questions and use writing, and the natural dive into journalism. Loved the Mecca. (I went to Brandeis for undergraduate and had a Mecca too!). Loved the part about the trip to Paris, which broadened them all. "I wanted you to have your own life, apart from fear. I am wounded…. marked by old codes…. We are entering our last years together, and I wish I had been softer with you. Your mother had to teach me how to love you, how to kiss you and tell you I love you each night." (Page 125).

Now for more of my thoughts. I thought Coates point of view was deservedly his own, but steeped in such anger and lack of hope. I think as a therapist, about the scores of people I work with who deal with immense trauma in their lives, background, cores, that have become a part of their bodies and experiences. One could say there is no hope, no goodness, no chance for connection, no dream of resilience, of safety. But these women (and men) climb out of their traumas daily and hope for a better world. We are constantly working towards this, and I feel diametrically opposed to believing there is not hope for a better experience. Believing in the good. I am not pollyannish - nor naive. I have seen more trauma than most people can imagine, and yet I still think that we can be part of the solution instead of the problem. I still believe every day, that our hope, our care, our mattering and our stand for that makes a difference. That every day, we have to hold onto our dream, and begin to bring it into reality. I felt sad for how narrow the margins for possibility were, how negatively defining, how thin and stale the air in this book.

And then partway through…. The shootings. What can I say. I caught the slightest drift of the discussion, but largely stayed away. But just a hair enough to say that I believe that there is police violence. I also trust and am grateful for the police. I believe that awful violent mistakes have occurred, we all feel sad and sorry for the evils in our world that occur all the time, and everyday. I am just not prepared to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I also believe in good, and I believe that sometimes, we have to be smart and think about our protection. I am the rare true "Independent," who eschews muslim racial profiling, racial profiling of any kind, and prejudice. I also think we have to be smart, and not naive. We have to be critical thinkers and not sacrifice our safety with our naiveté. I am also terrified about Isis, and other kinds of evils out there, and I neither want to prejudge others, nor do I want to be killed for my compassion and naiveté. There has to be a sound in between where we prevent terrorism without terrorizing. Some people will be upset, feel racially profiled and stereotyped. But we cannot easily separate good police from bad police, not can we separate good and bad muslims, and we need to be thinking of people with the singularity that Coates suggests. That each person could be as easily good as they are might be bad. These events that happen in the world are complicated, and I do not necessarily always side with what appears to be the victim. I am not pro-palestinian, and I think these situations are often more complicated and nuances than our media would have them appear. I cannot help but just feel sad for all of our current violence in America, and rather than assign blame, or even tease out the complexity of emotions and responsibility, I think we have to start with a few things. Hope, Universality, the knowledge of evil, power, responsibility, accountability, and consciousness. I am quite honestly afraid to say more. We exist in sad and ugly times. But there is also beauty in this world, in every day, and in every moment. I think the trick is learning how to hold those side by side and create a narration that keeps us loving, growing, and moving forward.


JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments Anita, thanks for sharing your review. I haven't written mine yet for many of the same reasons that you mentioned. I also completely agree that the prose was mesmerizing.

I did also get the feeling that he was a bit critical of successful blacks, but maybe he was trying to express that the black community thought of successful blacks as giving up their own black culture. Since I did listen to this, it was hard to go back and pinpoint specific sections. I think I might go out and buy a copy because I'm sure I could use a re-read.


Anita Pomerantz | 6671 comments JoLene wrote: "Anita, thanks for sharing your review. I haven't written mine yet for many of the same reasons that you mentioned. I also completely agree that the prose was mesmerizing.

I did also get the feelin..."


I know on the re-read. And I highlighted A LOT. Now I'm reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and he's even more ambivalent about blacks who were succeeding (in his mind by basically sucking up to white people). Yet on the flip side, he admits that small business ownership is a key component to securing his people's future. I'm left to interpret this as "we want to be successful, but on our own terms" - - but I'm left to wonder what those terms are and/or how that will work exactly.

But, the writing was spectacular even if perhaps I wasn't the target audience for the message.


message 27: by Sara (last edited Jul 21, 2016 05:34PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (mootastic1) | 770 comments Having now read this, I am even more confused about the references to successful blacks. The only reference I really came across to successful blacks was in regards to Prince's mother.

Is this in regards to his frequently used phrase, "those who think they are white?" The way I read that it sounded as if he was actually talking about Caucasians. He was using it pejoratively in regards to the centuries old notion that to be white was superior. So those who think they are white means those who think they are better than us.


Anita Pomerantz | 6671 comments I took that phrase to refer to both Caucasians and to blacks who really integrated, but I need to look back and see if I highlighted specific passages that gave me that impression.


Anita Pomerantz | 6671 comments Here is one paragraph I highlighted . . .I thought this referred to black people, but maybe I misinterpreted it? "Perhaps that was, is, the hope of the movement: to awaken the Dreamers, to rouse them to the fact of what their need to be white, to talk like they are white, to think that they are white, which is to think that they are beyond the design flaws of humanity, has done to the world."

I interpreted this as an indictment of blacks who are satisfied with trying to conform to white societal structures. But I would welcome someone to set me straight because I didn't feel I completely grasped everything this book had to say.


message 30: by Sara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (mootastic1) | 770 comments Anita wrote: "Here is one paragraph I highlighted . . .I thought this referred to black people, but maybe I misinterpreted it? "Perhaps that was, is, the hope of the movement: to awaken the Dreamers, to rouse th..."

I will have to reread this bit in context, but I get what you are saying. Do you happen to have a page number?


Anita Pomerantz | 6671 comments Another highlighted passage: "The Dream of acting white, of talking white, of being white, murdered Prince Jones as sure as it murders black people in Chicago with frightening regularity". A black officer killed Jones. I feel like he is saying that aspiring to the life that white people would characterize as responsible . . .holding a job, amassing financial security, speaking proper English . . .is a negative if a black person takes on those desires . . .maybe the poetic language is beyond my interpretive skills . . .that's how I read it initially though.


Anita Pomerantz | 6671 comments Annoyingly it is on Kindle. And the page numbers don't akways match up. It is way toward the end. Try page 146.


Anita Pomerantz | 6671 comments Another to consider: "The people who believe they are white can never be your measuring stick. I would not have you descend into your own dream." page 108? There is more to the passage, but I thought this was a warning not to get caught up in personally chasing the white societal norms . . .to stay focused on the black race as a whole, not your individual pursuit of what white society holds up as good.


Nicole D. | 1496 comments Sara wrote: "Is this in regards to his frequently used phrase, "those who think they are white?" The way I read that it sounded as if he was actually talking about Caucasians. He was using it pejoratively in regards to the centuries old notion that to be white was superior. So those who think they are white means those who think they are better than us. ."

I read this twice, and this is definitely the way I took it


message 35: by Anita (last edited Jul 22, 2016 12:55PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anita Pomerantz | 6671 comments Nicole wrote: "Sara wrote: "Is this in regards to his frequently used phrase, "those who think they are white?" The way I read that it sounded as if he was actually talking about Caucasians. He was using it pejor..."

I did think most of the time when he used the phrase "those who think they are white" . . .that he was referring to Caucasians. The continual references to the "Dream" and the denigration of the "dream" was more what made me think he didn't like the idea of blacks chasing what he felt is white man's conception of success. That, and some of the specific passages above. And probably others . . .I highlighted a lot of stuff lol.


message 36: by Sara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sara (mootastic1) | 770 comments Anita wrote: "Annoyingly it is on Kindle. And the page numbers don't akways match up. It is way toward the end. Try page 146."

I read it on Nook so it might match up.


Tricia Nociti Anita wrote: "Nicole wrote: "Anita, I think your review is very insightful and well thought out. And, like you, I find it hard to comment on the book because I am not black and cannot personally relate to the fe..."

I haven't yet read your review because I'm at work and feel the need to be ready to digest your thoughts and feelings regarding the work. It impacted me so profoundly and I want to give your thoughts adequate attention.

However, in response to your question on his purpose, I read it as empowerment - if you believe that knowledge and shared experience is power. The most profound sense of powerlessness, imo, is the feeling of being alone and the sense that what you're experiencing has never before been experienced. That your fears have never before been encountered and conquered. So he is sharing generations of fear, oppression, experience, and, as such, empowerment. My guess is that as white people we've never had to empower our children like this and that makes it harder to identify.


Tricia Nociti Also, I wanted to add, that I listened on audio book and to hear the author's own voice speak the words was moving beyond measure. I'd like to read in paper form to take notes and actual get into it more.


Anita Pomerantz | 6671 comments Tricia wrote: "The most profound sense of powerlessness, imo, is the feeling of being alone and the sense that what you're experiencing has never before been experienced.."

That's a very insightful thought . . . I never really considered it that way. It may be especially true if your perception is that there is no way out. And honestly, I can see how, without money, it might look like there is no way out. I really need to remind myself how often I'm able to use money to solve problems . . .I might not LIKE doing that, but I can if I have to do so.

I can see what you mean - - how feeling like you are not alone in your feelings, in your struggle - - might really be a good thing . . .

Thought provoking comments . . .


message 40: by JoLene (last edited Jul 24, 2016 12:17PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments Tricia, I also hadn't really thought of it like that, but I agree that feeling part of community and having feelings validated is important for humans as we are social animals.

I guess some of what this conversation brings to mind is how is the actual definition of success different for the black community vs the white (or any other community). I get that people want to celebrate their heritage, but I think that most people regardless of race want to be able to provide for their families and have basic needs met (food, shelter and sense of security). At this time the sense of security is a huge issue, but does Malcolm X go into what is different about the black dream?


Denizen (den13) | 1138 comments I found this piece from the NY Times interesting this morning - a continuation of Coates ideas. I felt I was able to grasp her points much more quickly because of the Coates book (which she references in the article.)

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/22/mag...


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