Courtesy art

If you grew up somewhere conservative, closed-minded, and racially homogenous like I did, there’s probably nothing that bothers your older relatives more than “making it about race.” I called my father after a South Carolina girl was assaulted by a police officer in her high school, and I said “that would’ve never happened to me” but still, it “wasn’t about race.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates knows full-well that the feigned colorblindness of modern America is a facade, a scam. His book, “Between the World and Me,” is a long-form letter to Coates’ teenage son, exploring the realities of being black in the United States. It is about race, unapologetically and unflinchingly. 

What makes this book different is the refusal to introduce hope in the conversation. Coates doesn’t believe there’s any reason to be optimistic; he believes America and its white supremacy are inseparable. The book is infused with the reality of being black in America, a reality that won’t be changed with prayers or faith. And there’s a reason it won the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction — because it’s all true. Maybe I’m a little more optimistic than Coates, because I believe a better future is possible, but I’m also white in America and it’s possible for me to ignore that there could be another way. Possible, but unacceptable. 

 

Reach writer Haylee Millikan at arts@dailyuw.comTwitter: @hayleemaid

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