Capture the Dream?

Dear Jordan,

“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”- Thomas Jefferson. Throughout our past few months together, two unlikely human beings have been able to grow and bond with one another. Although our past lives prior to meeting one another have been filled with different triumphs, obstacles, and overall experiences, we have both created successful lives for ourselves as individuals. Even though the first few weeks of living together were a tad odd, we were each trying to figure the other one out and find common ground for which to bond. It was not until one day after practice that I walk into the room and yo were watching the Trial of OJ Simpson ESPN series on TV that we really started to talk and bond. You asked me all sorts of questions about Los Angeles and how accurate the ESPN movie really was. Although the OJ Simpson trial happened before I was born, I had no problem laughing and reminiscing about my life in Los Angeles and answering questions about what it was like. We had never really gone out of our ways to talk to one another and learn about each other’s roots. Who knew it would take a series one one of America’s most powerful racial trials to actually bond us together as friends. I know how eager you are to always want to know more about the world around you, which is why I want to tell you about a very powerful book I have read that know you will enjoy, it is called ‘Between the World and Me’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I promise not to spoil it for you, the book was written as a letter to the author’s son as a medium to display the feelings, symbolism, and realities associated with being black in the United States. As a young, athletic, proud African American living in the Untied States, I believed that there would be no other person who would appreciate this book more than you.

One of the main common themes throughout the book is the theme of the constant struggle that Coates describes throughout his book. That struggle is, in fact, the awareness and action, or lack thereof, in regards to the outrageously numerous accounts of racist acts towards members of the African American community. Coates states that too many Americans choose to overlook the real racist problem that we as a country still need to adhere to. How the unfair treatment of African Americans is still a major issue and that too many citizens turn a blind eye to the improper treatment of African Americans. Coates state that there is a discourse set for members of the African American community and he tells his son “I did not tell you that it would be okay because I have never believed it would be okay” (Coates 11). Coates does not sugar coat the fact that life is going to be more difficult for him because he is African American. Your Positive outlook on life has always inspired me to want to keep pushing through tough times because I know that you have pushed through and still are pushing through much tougher times. As you know I volunteer at a local K-8 school here in San Rafael, I help the teachers in the class room and give inspirational talks to the students about their future and how they create their own paths. Although my talks take some time to sink in for the young minded students, one particular eighth-grader named Fernando seemed to relate to my talks the most. Fernando is a student in the science class that I volunteer in, at first he was quick to crack jokes, mess around and neglect to complete his school work in the classroom despite his teacher really wanting him to succeed. Yet after I talked about my struggles in early and secondary school and who I almost through away my future, he talked to me individually, asking questions about my life in high school and college. He wanted to know where I went, what my grades were like, if high school was easy and how I was able to turn everything around. I told him the importance of wanting to pursue higher education and how having teachers that want you to succeed is a blessing that I did no have when I was his age. I told him to be grateful for all that he has but to never be content and always strive for more. Ever since then, Fernando has participated much more in class, has appeared more engaged in wanting to learn, and is always to first student to say hi to me as I walk into class. I let him know that some people are going to try and tell him that he can only amount to certain things because of his racial and socioeconomic upbringing, but in the end, he makes the final call about how much potential he has.

Another theme depicted in the book is the theme of vulnerability. Coates uses the term vulnerability to describe to treatment and unjust reputation that is placed on members of the African-American race. Coates describes how African Americans are unjustly predisposed as criminals or thugs in our society, thus making then more vulnerable to barbaric treatment and negative discourse throughout their lives. Coates states that although he is obviously not okay with this vulnerability that it still exists nonetheless “You have been cast in a race in which the wind is always in your face and the hounds are always at your heels. And to varying degrees this is the true of all life. The difference is that you do not have the privilege of living in ignorance of this essential fact”(Coates 107) In one of his more powerful lines, Coates dissects the vulnerability that his son is going to be exposed to as an African American and how he must view it not as a struggle but as an opportunity to grow and become stronger as a person, for he does not get the luxury of turning the other cheek about the real racism in society.

The prior two themes ultimately tie into Coates main theme which is in fact the concept of the American Dream and what it means to succeed in America. From what I know about you Jordan, you are a man of action and have always had high hopes in terms of what you wanted to achieve in life. In his book, Coates points out the differences between dreamers and the dream. Coates describes the dreamers as people who are not active participants in the work because of the fact that they choose to only see the good while intentionally neglecting the acknowledge the bad in our world. Those ‘dreamers’ are living in a dream world, a fantasy that does not really exist. Coates then describes his concept of the dream, “This is the foundation of the Dream , its’ adherents must not just believe in it but believe that it is just, believe that their possession of the Dream is the natural result of grit, honor, and good works.” (Coates 98) Knowing that he himself will not fully reach the dream, he is choosing to lets his son know about the world around him, hoping that he may in fact reach the dream and change the world.

I chose to write to you Jordan because you exhibit all of the positive traits that Coates displays throughout his book. You have dreams for yourself and do not neglect to see the good in the world without also seeing the bad that comes with it. As I look around the room and see posters of your three heroes, Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson and Malcolm X, I see a little piece of you in each one of them, knowing that they helped give you a perspective on the person you want to be. Some people choose to dream, some people choose to turn the other cheek I see you as someone you one day will want to change the world Jordan, the same way Coates intends for his son to do the same. The path to success is not quite paved for you, but you know that already, your goal is to embrace it, and I wish you all the well through you triumphs.

Yours Truly,

Brett