The Boundary between Blacks and Whites in Coates’ Novel

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In Between the World and Me, Ta-nehisi Coates addresses the blatant injustices that have existed and speaks of the risks of living in a country where unarmed black men such as Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, etc...die at the hands of the police. He discusses the plunder and vulnerability of the black body and weighs in on the discussion about blame and responsibility for urban ills.

Coates explores the lack of justice and ongoing discrimination by alluding to his own past experiences. Coates states, “Here is what I would like for you to know: In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body-it is heritage”. With this in mind, Coates informs his son about America’s refusal to acknowledge oppressive behavior towards the African American demographic. Coates bluntness about these issues gives a burdensome task for African Americans to stand against injustice and police brutalities

Coates’ usage of personal anecdotes and cautious yet assertive diction justifies his opinion on people’s ignorance about the systemic racism that still exists. He states, “This is your country, that this is your world, that this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it”. However, Coates doesn’t want his son to hold a grudge against past discriminatory experiences that seem to re appear throughout history. He gives his son a sense of responsibility to handle possible racial injustices that might set any roadblocks for him in the near future. In the long run, Coates’ purpose is to make his son comprehend the raw truth which is not to discourage him from succeeding, but to keep him aware of his intrinsic worth.

Throughout the book, Coates establishes the contrast of “The Dream” of whites vs blacks’ lack of control over their bodies and lives. He claims that “The Dream thrives on generalization, on limiting the number of possible questions, on privileging immediate answers”. Coates’ interpretation of the Dream depicts a life where the Dreamer can live without the fear for the safety for his or her body. Coates argues,“The Dream” that the white people now live includes “wine tastings and ice cream socials” due to the “flaying”, “chaining”, “rape”, and “sale” of “disparate tribes”. The acts forced upon the black people, “deny you and me the right to secure and govern our own bodies".The American dream may be summed up in images of financial stability, family, white picket fences, etc... It yields a desire to strive toward a common aspiration but this in itself implies that there’s always a group of individuals that consider “The Dream” too far-fetched and unfitting. Considering the overall tone, Coates believes there’s a lingering social stigma that draws a line between blacks and whites.

As an audience one is able to grasp Coates’ vision, hopes and fears for his son. Throughout Between a World and Me Coates focuses on the theme of disembodiment in America and addresses the injustices his son will ultimately have to face and overpower in order to live a life that isn’t bounded by fear.

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The Boundary Between Blacks and Whites in Coates' Novel. (2021, Oct 08). Retrieved October 1, 2023 , from

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