The vulnerability and humanity

To _______,

I am taking this course in college and we read this book called Between the World and Me By Ta-Nehisi Coates. It talks a lot about the things related to what we are talking about in our class, with discourse and racism and such topics as those. This a class assignment that I have to write a letter about one of the three prompts that were given to us so I chose this one, it talks about the American Dream and vulnerability, the impacts it makes/has; on the people in this book, us as humans and the people at our community partners. (forcefully) Finding ways to see how vulnerability with the American Dream and, discourse in racism is all connected.

The quotes in the prompt I was presented with had some examples of how “vulnerability” is such a crucial experience for Coates. As being an African American in a society that is majority white he dealt with a lot of discrimination. With his son getting pushed by a white women, is an example he gave of vulnerability towards African American people. How they are treated, the vulnerability to their society. Because in the book it states that, “The missing thing was related to the plunder of our bodies, the fact that any claim to ourselves, to the hands that secured us, the spine that braced us, and the head that directed us, was contestable.” (pg. 37) This quote explains vulnerability a way that they have been robbed of their own bodies. The have lost their identity, as how they are and there guidance in life. I know that vulnerability is hard for people to deal with, because vulnerability is seen as a sign of weakness. Most people put on a mask, and do not really show the vulnerable side of them. But for Coates it is so important because being vulnerable is apart of being human. In a school setting with my community partner, with the students I work with they are not very vulnerable because it is school. They are social with friends and focused on school work. It is not a typical atmosphere to be vulnerable.

With this prompt that I choose it also has a reference to the Dream, which is the American Dream it is referencing to. How the history of African American and America is necessary component to The Dream. This quote, “In America it is traditional to destroy the black body — it is heritage. Enslavement was not merely the antiseptic borrowing of labor — it is not so easy to get a human being to commit their body against its own elemental interest.” (pg. 103) This quote shows how they were vulnerable not by choice. They were not they had no options but to obey and not commit their body against its own interest. The enslavement of African Americans back then, has somehow still connected back to now days. The way that African American slaves were treated back then, compared to now. As they were treated as lesser than humans back then, some people still treat them as lesser people now. I think the students I work with at my community partner have visions of the Dream. But I don’t think that they live it, and if they have a real grasp on what it truly is. But as many of them are spanish speaking students, I do not think they live the Dream. As they are only teenagers I do not think it is one of their big concerns to them.

This book has really given me a different perspective on how the issue of discourse and racism. I hope it does for you too, giving some insight on how how this is an issue, and people are people regardless of race.


Kara Dung