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Between the World and Me Reflection

Coates’s narration of his personal experience with the truths of what happened in the incidences he pointed out helps a lot in understanding his perspective. Coates personal experience has made me understand that his perspective is not just a perspective that he chose without reason, but a perspective that has a story backing it up. The brutality of the County PG police as narrated by Coates to victims like Elmer .C. Newman, Gary Hopkins, Freddie McCollum, construction workers, mechanics, and even students makes me understand why his perspective of a different nature (Coates 7). From the personal experiences he had of how tough the streets were to the point of saying that it was better they killed their son themselves than the streets made by America killing him makes me understand his perspective.

Coates feels compelled to write this letter to his son because he feels there is a need for his son to understand the world around him during his childhood. He feels that his son should also know how to maneuver and survive in a not always friendly world (Coates 7). The letter to his son would equip him with the necessary tools to know what to indulge in and avoid. Mere words without real-life examples would not have made his son understand what he went through, bringing him up and making sure that he was safe, so he felt compelled to write the letter for his son to understand his sacrifice for him fully. As much as some things might have changed in the world, Coates felt the need for his son to know the roots of events in the past and how things were even if the current world might seem to be different and friendly (Coates 7). Again he felt compelled to write this letter to his son so that in case his son comes across any similar incidents, he might know the root course and how to deal with it.

Coates tells, reflects, and analyzes many incidents and many scenarios in his letter to his son. Coates tells and narrates about the actions of the PG County police and the victims of their brutality (Coates 7). He also tells about Prince’s story and the activities that took place in his burial ceremony. Coates tells about the officer who was known as a liar being allowed to continue with his work after being demoted (Coates 7). Coates records that it was a black officer who killed Prince Jones and that it was again the black politicians who drove the officer to kill (Coates 7). Coates tells about his curiosity that led him to call and question politicians to get more information concerning the events that were taking place around.

Coates reflects on the feeling he had after reading the newspaper and recognizing the student who had been killed. He says that he really cannot remember what happened after finding out. He thought he stumbled back and told his wife what he had read (Coates 7). He thought the young girl who kept long dreads screamed after asking her if it would have been true, and he remembers the rage he felt. Coates reflects his imagination of being like Prince Jones, who, in multiple jurisdictions, was tracked by a man wearing a costume of a criminal (Coates 7). He reflects his thoughts about the wonderful black people he had seen at Mecca, their language, their geography and stories, their hair, and the beautiful humanity they possessed (Coates 7). Coates also reflects the great fear he had while he held his son at night as all their American generations took him.

Coates analyzes the events, including police brutality, and says that many are a product of democratic will. He analyses situations like random detention of people who are black, abuses from police officers, torture of suspects, and the state of carceral sprawling as the result of the will of democracy (Coates 7). He concludes some parts of his letter saying that a challenge to the police will be like a challenge to the people of America who give them the power to enter into the ghettos armed. From his analysis of the theories stating that people who were black were relaxed and showed some kind of impatience with crime, Coates understood that safety was more precious than justice (Coates 7). Coates realized that the inadequacy of safety does not help but constrains someone’s understanding of the world.

Works Cited

Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me. One World, 2015.


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