PublicMorality.com

Publicmorality.com

Here is a link to an interview I did with Byron Williams on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ new book Between the World and Me.

Interviewed: Dr. George Cummings

Byron Williams, Ethel Morgan Smith

publicmorality.com

Please stroll down to #11.

Radio Show with Byron Williams
Byron Williams on Ta Nehisi Coates’ new book Between the World and Me.

 

More about this book on Amazon:

 

#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

Flowers Out of Bone (14)

Flowers Out of Bone

Photo of Ethel Morgan Smith

by Ethel Morgan Smith

Chapter 1

            “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.

To be continued

Flowers Out of Bone (13)

Flowers Out of Bone

Photo of Ethel Morgan Smith

by Ethel Morgan Smith

Chapter 1

Flowers Out of Bone (13)

            “Just think, I mean, I’m going to Princeton and it doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal,” Emma says.

            “It is a big deal. But that’s what the battle for civil rights was all about. Princeton will be harder when you get there. Just remember who you are and that you deserve to be there.”

            “I don’t feel that I don’t deserve to be there,” Emma says.

            “It’ll be different when you get there. Just in case you need to know, your right to be there was long ago earned by the blood of your ancestors. And you must always remember to make life a little bit better for those coming after you.”

            “You mean Black folks?” Emma asks.

“Yes, especially Black women. Just remember where you come from.” I try to sound conversational. “In spite of movies and books, it’s still hard for me to imagine not being able to go to the library, try on clothes in stores, or all of the other denials. How could segregation last so long?” Emma asks.

            “It was just an accepted part of our lives, like diseases and bad weather, just more often.” I wonder if there is a better answer. A light breeze swirls leaves around our feet. “And remember, there is still plenty of segregation in this country.”

            “I know; but I also know my life is so different from yours. Segregation sounds more like human bondage, some story from the Bible,” Emma says.

            “Well, it isn’t some ancient story; it happens right here and all across this country, today.” I stop and stomp the ground. “I wouldn’t mention that Bible part to your Aunt Ruby.”

            “She does get a bit carried away.” We laugh, and fall into a sweet silence. Emma twirls a drooped daisy she picks up on the path.

            “You know, it’s okay to be a little hesitant about coming back here,” Emma says. I stop and put my hands on my hips. “I’m not exactly hesitant.”

            “Okay. Concerned then,” Emma brushes a ladybug from my shoulder. “I didn’t grow up here. And I never knew him. It’s very different for me. How he was killed is awful and painful, but none of it has any real meaning for me. It’s like a bad movie that makes me sad because it hurts you so.”

            “I’m sorry.” I stare at the shiny leaves on the huge magnolia tree above us.

            “Mom, no one holds it against you.”

            “Hold what against me?” I freeze in the middle of my step.

            “That you couldn’t come back before now.”

            “Is that what you talk about when you visit?”

            “You know, it comes up sometimes.”
I had been able to get beyond segregation, but Emmett was too much. Emma’s questions are reasonable. When I used to dream of the future, my heart was always too weighed down with grief and sadness. Would I always carry this heavy burden? It is too heavy for anybody. Emma’s interest left me feeling lonely, but I like the fact that my daughter asks questions, forms opinions, and most important, she’s not afraid. “I’ve tried not to interfere.” My voice shakes.

To be continued