In the beginning of Coates, the following concepts are analyzed and defined in a way that weaves into American society.
- Race is the concept that the appearance and background a person is born with (skin color, hair color, etc), are defining factors of their social status. “Race is the child of racism”, which means race only became a classification of people because humans decided to separate people in society based on their ‘race’.
- The American Dream is the image and ideal that many immigrants have of America where they believe immigrating to America will allow them a better life.
- American exceptionalism is a term that refers to how America believes it is the greatest and most powerful country because they were blessed in such a way.
- Democracy is the system that many in American like to believe they belong to where everyone has a voice and say in their government.
- Capitalism is an economic principal where people can create and collect wealth, following the concept of Darwinism (survival of the fittest).
- White privilege is a concept that “white” people meaning Americans with European heritage has more benefits and access than others.
Coates explains what it is like to be black in America and how difficult it is because of racism and these concepts that impede his ability to lead a fair and equal life. These ideas of democracy and capitalism do not extend to everyone, but rather, only those that already have privilege. American exceptionalism harms other countries and white privilege harms people of other ethnicity. My understanding of these concepts have evolved and changed over the years as I’ve lived in America and have been educated through its education system.