‘Between the World and Me’ & James Baldwin
By Amoya Evans
This piece was inspired by one of my favorite books, Between the World and Me. Everyone should read this book and these writers.
The book Between the World and Me is a letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ son. It expresses the struggles of racial inequality and the consequences of living in a Black body in America. Coates confronts the history of slavery and racism during the periods of his letter to a younger generation. Coates points out how the abuse of power within the police force needs urgent change and to understand that the “broken-windows-policing” is another branch of a long history of racism in America. According to most sources, the broken windows theory is a criminological theory that shows how visible signs of crime create an urban environment that encourages further crime and deaths based on racial-bias or microaggressions.
In Between the World and Me, Coates states that his son was being harassed by a woman trying to prove she is on a “higher level” than him. I think this because the younger generation needs to know that the world they grew up in is not equal. Middle schoolers and high schoolers should read this book because it is educational. It educates you on microaggressions, bias, and racism. The actions in this book are current and are very relevant. James Baldwin was an American novelist and was especially known for his essays on the Black experience in America. He says, “This innocent country set you down in a ghetto in which, in fact, it intended that you should perish.” According to a study done by the New York Civil Liberties Union in 2014, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 45,787 times and 37,744 were innocent (eighty-two percent). 24,319 were Black (fifty-three percent). This relates to the message of Baldwin who says this country set Black people down in the ghetto and let them perish. James Baldwin also says “It comes to a shock that your country didn’t evolve a place for you.” This quote shows racism in America leads to inequality. James Baldwin and Ta-Nehisi Coates both make relevant points.
James Baldwin’s and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Letters have some concepts of implicit bias, the matrix of oppression, and racism. Racism is the belief that one race has an “advantage” over another race, which often results in discrimination and prejudice towards people based on their race or ethnicity. Implicit bias is a specific judgment of particular qualities to a member of a particular social group. The matrix of oppression is a pattern that explains issues of oppression that deal with race, class, and gender. I know this because in Baldwin’s quote he explains how “this innocent country set his nephew down in a ghetto in which it intended him to perish.” That section is a concept of implicit bias. I think James Baldwin’s nephew is being placed before being known. Coates explains this in multiple parts of his book and he also explains racism. There is a big difference in these quotes. Baldwin’s was written in 1962 and Coates’s in 2015.
A lot of things have changed in my opinion since the 1960s. James Baldwin and Ta-Nehisi Coates might have written at different times but they both discuss the issues evolving concepts of implicit bias, the matrix of oppression, and racism. Between the World and Me expresses many racial issues in America. It educates you on microaggressions, bias, and racism. Everyone should know that the messages in this book are important and very relevant.
I wanted to talk about the connections between two of my favorite writers.
Amoya Evans is a high school student in New York City.