Ta-Nehisi Coates and a Generation Waking Up
By Brit Bennett
Similarly, in “Between the World and Me,” Coates describes black women lovingly, almost ethereally, but they rarely appear as complicated, fully fleshed-out people. He closes the book with a conversation with Mabel Jones, his dead classmate’s mother. Her loss, to Coates, is her “legacy,” the time and energy and love she poured into a son who was stolen from her. Jones worries about her daughter—not about her daughter’s own body but about her daughter birthing a son whose body she could not protect from “the ritual violence that had claimed” her own son. Here, black women are vulnerable because of their love for black men. Coates writes extensively about the vulnerability of the black body, but he only briefly alludes to the additional ways black women’s bodies are vulnerable to sexual and physical violence. To his credit, he does not presume to be an expert on black women’s experiences, but his reluctance to interrogate them further feels odd for a narrator who is otherwise insatiably curious. “The women around you must be responsible for their bodies in a way that you never will know,” he writes to his son, and the lesson stops there. The dangers of living in a black female body are mysterious, forever unknowable.
s. e. anderson
author of The Black Holocaust for Beginners
If WORK was good for you, the rich would leave none for the poor. (Haiti)