And we should read and listen.
I’ve been trying to write something on the books I’ve read by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I couldn’t find the right words. Still can’t.
It’s been a month now and in the meantime I also read a 2014 cover story written by Ta-Nehisi for The Atlantic: “The Case for Reparations.” As well as The Moynihan Report. And more recently “The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration.”
Completely unrelated, I also read Felicia Day’s book “You’re Never Weird on the Internet.” All I’m saying, some time and reading has gone by. And I still haven’t fully processed all the stories and all the information.
I read “The Beautiful Struggle” (memoir) and “Between the World and Me” (a letter to his son) back to back. Both books are required reading if you want to get to know the writer and get a good picture of what has happened and is still going on in “Black America.” I consider “The Case for Reparations” also as required reading. It shows perfectly that racism didn’t end with the Emancipation Proclamation Act (in case anyone was still wondering), and how the systems that were in place made sure that a group of people would not become part of the broader society.
It’s stunning and incomprehensible when I read about these people’s lives. These lives, these stories didn’t happen ages ago. They are recent history and a lot of it still happens today.
A lot of the things Ta-Nehisi writes about is not part of the curriculum at schools here in Belgium. We basically get told that America came to be, slavery happened and that’s roughly it. Although that might have changed in the past 14 years. I don’t know. I doubt it. A half a year back I read the graphic novels “March” by representative and civil rights activist John Lewis. They never taught me about “Freedom Riders” in school.
Ta-Nehisi’s first book “The Beautiful Struggle” is a memoir and “Between the World and Me” was written as a “letter” to his son, and both contain stories that need to be told. It gives you a first person view into the difficult life of a person in an environment that many of us cannot imagine living in, and many unfortunately have to. It’s stories of pain and hope. Of love and hate. Of incomprehension and acknowledgement.
I’d love to read more by Ta-Nehisi. He has a wonderful way of writing tough to process topics. It helps a lot in learning more about this part of history, and understanding today’s society. And I deeply recommend you read his books.