I don’t think I can say anything about this book that hasn’t already been said, but I wanted to include it in my reviews regardless. Perhaps there is someone who hasn’t heard of it, will come across it here, and begin walking the road to self-assessment.
Coates writes this book as a letter to his son and in doing so makes the content that much more important. I started reading this in response to George Floyd’s murder and my own self-reckoning, my self-analysis, my unlearning. It was an incredible way for me to start my re-education and I can’t thank Coates enough for this book.
His writing is clear and stings. He writes about his childhood, explaining how Black families are still shackled by slavery, how this affects parenting and the futures of Black children. He talks about his time at Howard University, the murder of Prince Jones, the experience of becoming a Black father to a Black child, and wanting to be a writer.
There is elegance in the simplicity of his language. The way he describes the women he has loved is lesson in writing descriptions and feelings. He describes a confrontation with a white woman in an elevator. It is both provocative and yet, just more of what we already know. We could have written the script for that. That isn’t a criticism, just a note on how these images and lives are lived everyday.
It’s a necessary telling and one that I hope the future will not recognize.