By: Sharon Bingert, Chair – Global Goodwill Ambassadors, USA
Both my Husband and I have Always Believed in “Paying it Forward”. Today I had an amazing experience meeting and talking to a complete stranger.
My husband and I went to a Dollar Store to browse, and possibly purchase some items there.
What happened next to me, was a “Total Surprise”.
A lady in the store was buying items for what looked like something a child would enjoy. She had one that had “Streamers with a Sunshine Character”, plus another one that had a “Happy Face with Bright Colors and Streamers”. She also had in her basket coloring books, crayons, etc.
I started to ask her about a coloring book that she was looking at, and she said that she was a nurse and had a little boy who was about 5 or 6 years old as a patient.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER | NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER | NAACP IMAGE AWARD WINNER | NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST | NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • The Washington Post • People • Entertainment Weekly • Vogue • Los Angeles Times • San Francisco Chronicle • Chicago Tribune • Newsday • Vulture • Library Journal • Publishers Weekly Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States” (The New York Observer)
“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.”
In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?
Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.
Praise for Between the World and Me
“Powerful and passionate . . . profoundly moving . . . a searing meditation on what it means to be black in America today.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Brilliant . . . a mature writer entirely consumed by a momentous subject and working at the extreme of his considerable powers at the very moment national events most conform to his vision.”—The Washington Post
“I’ve been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died. Clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates. The language of Between the World and Me, like Coates’s journey, is visceral, eloquent, and beautifully redemptive. As profound as it is revelatory.”—Toni Morrison
“Coates has distilled four hundred years of history and his own anguish and wisdom into a prayer for his beloved son and an invocation to the conscience of his country. An instant classic and a gift to us all.”—Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns
“I know that this book is addressed to the author’s son, and by obvious analogy to all boys and young men of color as they pass, inexorably, into harm’s way. I hope that I will be forgiven, then, for feeling that Coates was speaking to me, too, one father to another.”—Michael Chabon
“Mom, I can only imagine how hard this has been on you.” Emma touches my left shoulder. Flutters of butterflies float toward the magnolia trees.
“One thing for sure, I am not going to cry. No more tears for Bone.” I wipe my eyes with my cold hands.
“I know. But it’s okay if you do. Just remember, no matter what they say or do, it’s from a place of love.” Emma wraps her arm around my waist. I smile and try to feel thankful.
“Emma, there’s a live oak, and what I believe is a pin oak.” I point toward the trees. My hand shakes a little, but my heart is steady.
“Where’d you learn all this? I can barely tell the difference between a pine and a maple.”
“Look at those big leaves. On the inside, they’re velvety. And the bark on the outside is black, but on the inside, it’s yellow as daffodils. Some folks actually call it yellow oak,” I pick up a leaf from the ground and show my daughter.
“Did Big Mama teach you all this?” Emma asks.
“She loved flowers and anything to do with nature. And Aunt Honey too. I want you to get to know her. We used to plant together. Those were my best lessons, learning about the most natural beauty on earth. Oh, how I envy the flowers.”
“Where was I?”
“A toddler. Running through our flower beds, or hanging out with Beauty and making mud pies.” I laugh.
“I still love playing in the dirt. I can’t imagine Gram making mud pies. Big Mama would be so proud of you turning something you love into a real business.”
“Big Mama introduced me, but now they’re a part of me like a body part. She always wore a big straw hat and her garden apron, as she called it. When we’d finished, she’d wipe her face and say, ‘We made de Good Lord smile on dis day.’ I move closer to Emma. “She’d be just as proud of you, young lady. Look, Emma, there’s a white oak behind the elm.”
“I know what an elm is, since there’s one in our yard in Atlanta,” Emma glows with the same pride I used to have when I correctly identified flowers for Big Mama.
“Good eye.” I praise my daughter by squeezing her shoulder. We’re nearly the same height.