The American Struggle

Dear Mom,

It is time to look back and acknowledge the past of the United States of America, though it is not as calming and inspirational as we’d hope. It is a place that you decided is appropriate for our family live our lives and that you felt is the most rewarding and comfortable place to be for us. Luckily, this is something that is true for our family, despite a few troubles along the way. This was not the case for many people in the past, particularly people of color. In Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, he addresses the difficulties of living in America as a black male. Though you are married to an Irish and Italian man, come from a Mexican household, and raised two mixed kids in this unpredictable and sometimes unaccepting society, we do not have it half as bad as people did in the past. Coates’ states, “I did not tell you that it would be okay, because I have never believed it would be okay” (11). Coates struggles with convincing his son that life will return to normal and things will get better, because he has not been able to witness that for himself yet. Learning through experiences was very difficult in this time because there were not many happy endings. There was a struggle to survive and make a name for yourself. It is difficult to confidently be involved in things when there is a constant worry about adequate safety for the individual and the individual’s family. You have told me to make the extra step in life to succeed, and it is not fair that others did not have this luxury due to the color of their skin.

This is one of the many lessons that you taught us growing up.

You are constantly looking out for us and are thinking about how our actions will reflect our future. Coates mentions, “We were laughing, but I know that we were afraid of those who loved us the most” (17). Coates did not realize the reason that his parents were harsh on him until he was older. His parents wanted to be the ones to punish him in order to prevent him from getting into situations that bring in the unjust law enforcement. Coates states, “Our history was inferior because we were inferior, which is to say our bodies were inferior” (43–44). This was a very important point that Coates made because that is the issue black people had to face on a daily basis. It was also what put his son at a disadvantage before he even started to walk, talk, or go to school. Though he has to face this challenge, Coates points out that his son should fight it for his own desire to beat. To live with a struggle, is to constantly be challenged to work harder and result in being a better person. Coates states, “The struggle is really all I have for you because it is the only portion of this world under your control” (107). The struggle is one of the most consistent things that Coates is familiar with. It has been with his ancestors throughout the past and he grew up with it as well. Even though Coates’ son does not have a say in the color of his skin, he has the potential to overcome a limitless amount in his life. This is true to our lives today. We are faced with discrimination that has stemmed from the darkest time in American history. Coates claims, “They made us into a race. We made ourselves into a people” (149). A very inspirational statement made to his son, showing that anything is possible regardless of the situation. The struggle someone faces, regardless of the color of their skin, will determine their outlook on the world. You, like Coates, have a mindset that shows us that there is a good which can come from the bad. We just have to keep fighting for what we believe in and not be afraid to openly disagree when we see necessary. America has the potential to be a widely diverse and accepting home for many, it is up to us to prove it to ourselves and others. Coates mentions the perspective of a caring and hardworking parent that reminded me of you, so I thought I’d share this with you. See you soon.

Love,

Sam