Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Excellent memoir (in the form of a letter to the author's son). Strongly recommend every American read this as soon as possible. Coates writes prose as if it is poetry. He clearly and simply traces the relationship between American economics, slavery, the Civil War, the modern South, police brutality, city projects, and the uphill battle of those trying to move away from the history. He manages to pack a lot into a very short book. Between his beautiful writing and his economy of words, I wasn't able to put the book down until I was finished.
It's particularly interesting reading this book right now, when the current presidential election is mired in these very issues. The thing that's different now, is that the racist-sexist forces in our country have failed to hide their intentions this time. With their true intentions on display a majority of the "other" seem to have banded together: Women, black people, Hispanic people, GLBT, and others voting together en masse against the typical oppressors. As Gloria Steinem says racism and sexism are closely related and intertwined. It keeps the maximum number oppressed and also helps keep everyone divided. It's not a conspiracy, it's simply that authoritarians want to keep as much power for themselves and away from as many others as possible, so everyone is "lesser." One thing that Coates stresses though is that even if a majority are moving away from racist-sexist attitudes, it takes only one act of state-sanctioned terrorism by the police to take away all security. And sadly there have been many more than one.
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