Ta-Nehisi Coates shares with us stories from his life, growing up and as an adult, sharing his experience of being black in America. He frames it in a personal way as if we are a part of an intimate conversation between him and his son.
As I read Coates' words I was reminded of Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Both books gave me insight into what it means to be a non-white person in this country that on one hand is so great (filled with freedoms many other countries don't have) but also filled with racist problems where not all of our people feel those basic freedoms.
While I can't compare stories I do remember in the late 80's while I worked retail in a variety of beautiful malls in Minneapolis/St Paul and suburbs. Friends that might visit me in the store dressed like musicians of the 80's while I was working were often followed into the store by mall security or mall managers. In one of these instances it was boutique mall in Victoria Crossing area of St Paul and the manager came into the store on the heals of my friend Randy. She clearly stated in front of my friend that "she wanted to make sure I was okay." I remember feeling so indignant like of course I'm okay and I said something to that effect. Randy looked at her and said something like "I know it might surprise you but we're friends." After she walked he kidded me about how I should think about getting different friends that would be "mall-acceptable." I remember several other instances with him and other friends and yet I felt like Mpls/St Paul was more cosmopolitan than most communities and that race problems we experienced must be few and far between but we also never spoke about it much. Now I think I must have only viewed a small portion of what they dealt with on a daily basis.
To be in an altercation today as a black person with police must be scary and could be deadly. I do know there are many good officers as well. Why does it keep happening? It seems to be getting worse and we need to find a way to make it better together. I appreciate Coates' book for allowing us an insider view of the real struggle. This should be required reading, it made me think more about white privilege, and how this shouldn't exist anymore. We are still far away from the world Dr. King imagined we could have as humans.
In the famous words of Dr. King we must band together:
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
"In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
I want to read more of Ta-Nehisi's words and my husband listened to me I guess because the other night he handed me his copy of The Atlantic with an article about O.J. Simpson. I read that, agreed with his thoughts and am ready for more. We all need our eyes opened to bring about change; it might be a case though of preaching to the choir.
Bring it on V and A, what are we going to read next...?