My Name is Kunta Kinte, so Don’t Call Me Toby

What: Coates is writing this book to explain what it means to be Black in America, it is written like a letter to his son because he wants his son to understand as he has reached an age when race issues will become more apparent. By “living in a black body,” neither Coates or his son is truly living free. He admires Malcolm X for being empowered and speaking his mind, and in turn does not like Black History Month because he does not understand what would be gained from classes showing children videos

So What:

a) While “good intentions” are good, they are still merely intentions. If these intentions aren’t changing anything, then they simply have no point. A major place where this is clear, is in schools and they say “those who failed in the schools justified their destruction in the streets,” people turn a blind eye while students were joining gangs and becoming violent and just attributed these actions to them doing poorly in school. While people had good intentions when trying to help, people haven’t been able to actually change anything, and this keeps their “good intentions” as just intentions and nothing more.

b) The Dream is portrayed as the perfect happy life. Think of the standard family. What are they? They’re white, living in a cute house with a white picket fence, perfect children, working 9–5 and still having money to spare. This Dream is impossible for many people to attain. There isn’t really a Dream conveyed in my group for SL so far. Currently we just strive to get the students to do work without fighting back.

Now What: My family was relatively poor growing up. I went to public school and I was on the free lunch program all through my childhood. My family did not live the standard “Dream” but we were happy. I didn’t even realize that we were poor until I was older and people laughed at me. My family would always write out Christmas wishlists, and the lists were given to classes around the school and teachers would say “there’s this poor family that can’t afford gifts, so please donate.” I had no idea that my family was poor. This came as a shock to me and it was embarrassing. At this point the other students still did not know, but this was just the start to me dealing with all the rich kids. When I was in high school, I would just be hanging out with friends and they would constantly talk about trips to Hawaii or Europe and how they have houses all over and that they’d all go on trips together, and this was such a crazy idea to me. They didn’t even care that I couldn’t participate with them because they didn’t understand how someone could just not afford to do crazy stuff like that.