Black lives matter. I bet you’ve heard of that hashtag started by three female activists in America following the untimely death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
It has since grown into a movement seeking to reclaim the sanctity that comes with life, of black Americans. Almost true to Ta-Nehisi Coates line: “Here is what I would like for you to know: In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body – it is heritage.”
Inspired by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time published in 1963, Ta-Nehisi Coates also writes to a 15-year-old, his son (Baldwin wrote to his nephew), following blatant acts of racial injustice on the streets of America by people sworn to protect the same citizenry they are accused of harassing and killing.
Mobile phone footage is often not good enough evidence as most police resume duty, patrolling those same streets, go for paid leave or aren’t investigated at all.
In Kenya on the other hand, an upwards of 5,041 complaints have been lodged with the Independent Police Oversight Authority since its inception in 2012.
Ta-Nahisi Coates writes with a clear voice of a concerned parent and citizen what is fundamentally enshrined in the 13th Amendment of the American constitution.
It states: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
That in essence ended slavery in its formal form but led to the increase of prisons in initially what was the southern states and unfortunately became the norm in that country. To comprehend this further, “13TH” the documentary on Netflix comes recommended.
Coates leans on the backbone of history, weaved by the love for his son in his veins and with it pens his narrative of injustice against the black man in America: from slavery to present day.
The fact is that even after having a black president for eight years Americans are even more divided along race lines. If it’s not the cops, it’s your own kind that gets you.
Between the World and Me can basically be condensed into a story about a black man raised in Baltimore, Maryland, trying to survive the black-on-black crime and police brutality using current happenings to underscore what you think he is trying to say.
It’s a book written for the black community in the language they understand.
He draws you in with the contemplative nature of the text, examples drawn from his own life and of people around him.
Coates deliberately argues his case to his son raising questions he doesn’t answer leaving room for ventilation.
However he does say, “This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”