How should people within a black body live free?
What? In the beginning of the part I from Between The World and Me, Coates gives many examples as evidence to prove that the United States is not a perfect country or land like the heaven, it has many problems and racism is one of the most serious problems in it. In Between The World and Me Coates says, “I am writing you because this was the year you saw Eric Garner choked to death for selling cigarettes; because you know now that Renisha McBride was shot down for browsing in a department store” (9). This quote tells the truth that many black people were killed because of the discourses on them, which are created by our society. Coates believes America is not a paradise and being born as African American is unsafe. Coates wants to find a way to that how can he live free as an African American in this country. However, he found no answer for this question “The question is unanswerable, which is not to say futile” (12). I think what he means here is that just keep asking this question is a good thing. Coates think a constant questioning is important, “as much a series of actions as a state of being, a constant questioning, questioning as ritual, questioning as exploration rather than the search for certainty” (34). Coates tells us we don’t need find a certain answer to each question, just keep asking the question will give us more concepts and knowledge. And through the text, Coates writes it as a letter to his son, because he wants to educate his son about the racism problem in American society. Coates is also very afraid that the racism problem can destroy his son’s body, so he wants his son know ahead to avoid being hurt by the problem. Coates expresses his fear in the text, “I heard the fear in the first music I ever knew, the music that pumped from boxes full of grand boast and bluster” (15). I think the fear is not only from the White community, but also from their own community. In Between The World and Me, Coates also says, “It does not matter if the agent of those forces is white or black — what matter is our condition, what matter is the system that makes your body breakable” (18). I think Coates also wants to use this book to raise the racism problem is caused by white or black force, but it is caused by the social system. Coates dislikes the Black History Month and the stories and heroes portrayed, because he thinks the movies and stories the teachers showed the students were not the real world he was experiencing. Coates says, “I judged them against the country I knew, which had acquired the land through murder and tamed it under slavery, against the country whose armies fanned out across the world to extend their dominion” (32). Coates think those films doesn’t tell the truth that what is really happening is America, and he thinks the peace and love that portrayed in those films doesn’t match with the violence and war in the real world. Coates feels the films like curtain separate him from the real world, and the unreal peace and love cannot become true in the real world. The dissatisfy arises in Coates’ mind and brings more burden on him. In Between The World and Me, Coates also says, “How could they send us out into the streets of Baltimore, knowing all that they were, and then speak of nonviolence?” (32). Coates thinks the school shouldn’t just ignore to talk about the racism problem, because it is truly happening in the real world. I think the reason why Coates likes Malcolm X so much is that he thinks Malcolm is free and honest. Coates thinks Malcolm can do everything he is afraid to do and portray a real hero imagination in Coates’ mind. Coates says, “The portrait communicated everything I wanted to be — controlled, intelligent, and beyond the fear” (35). Before Coates knowing Malcolm, he didn’t think anyone can beat the fear and live in a truly free life. Coates thinks Malcolm is the most man he ever know, “I loved Malcolm because Malcolm never lied, unlike the schools and their facade of morality, unlike the streets and their bravado, unlike the world of dreamers” (36). Coates likes Malcolm and dislikes the Black History Month, because he thinks the Black History doesn’t reveal the truth of American history and Malcolm is being very honest about what is happening in the real world.
So What? a) In the beginning of Between The World and Me, Coates says, “Specifically, the host wished to know why I felt that white America’s progress, or rather the progress of those Americans who believe that they are white, was built on looting and violence.”, and he answered “The answer is American history” (5&6). Coates believes the violence that exists in American society is from its history. And the history of America creates the social structure that exists in this country now. Coates tells us that Abraham Lincoln declared the government is of the people, by the people, and for the people, but through American history Coates think the black people do not include in “the people”. Coates says, “Thus America’s problem is not its betrayal of “government of the people,” but the means by which “the people” acquired their names” (6). Coates feels that being an African American, he never has the same opportunities as other people have. Coates think the racism problem is in the bones of America history, and it has been carried to the modern world. Accordingly, Coates thinks all the intentions given to people as a hall pass through history. b) I think Coates believes the Dream is all the black people can do what they want without fear and concern on some other things. The Dream is everyone in the United States can speak like a person and act like a person who is free, because the U.S. is a free country and every citizen has the right to pursue his or her dream. I think the big Dream is made of all the small dreams. Malcolm X is the role model for Coates, because Malcolm lives in the life that he wants and without fear. “Malcolm spoke like a man who was free, like a black man above the laws that proscribed our imagination” (36). However, the “Dream” can mean different things, which are not the dream for most black people. I think Coates also wants to tell us that many people see the U.S. as their dream country. However, the U.S. is not the dream a country for everyone and some people may suffer a lot but still cannot live in their dream life in this country. Accordingly, I think the meaning of Dream has two explanations, one is the dream of better life in the future, the other is the “dream” for only some people but not all. I think in the Next Generation Scholar, I see a lot of dreams from the students there. Every time I go inside the house, I can hear the laugh, feel the energy and the power from the students. I think every student in the NGS has a special dream, and I can feel their dreams from the energy and power they convey to me.
Now What? I think the American for me has a great impact when I was little. Growing up in China, I hear many people talk about how good is the U.S. and U.S. citizen have much better welfare system than China’s. However, after I came to the U.S. I found it is not entirely true. The school is not that easy, because of the language barrier and different teaching system. I think before going to live in another country, people always have their own imagination on the at country. And when people find out some differences between their imagination and the real life, they are always shock. I think the critiques from Coates help me better understand the concept of Dream, and what is the real Dream. In Between The World and Me, Coates says, “But a very large number of Americans will do all they can to preserve the Dream” (33). Coates’ critiques also tell me that when the Dream become true, it may cost something we don’t know, so we need pay more attention on the results of the Dream for us.