Indivisible, How Four Interracial Friendships Brought America Together (PB) (2019)

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The writing of these stories began when a sixteen-year-old black girl sitting in a high school class in Trenton N.J raised her hand. Her all black class had been assigned the task of writing a short essay on any personal experience with a white person. She raised her hand to say simply, I don't know any white people except my teachers. Then other hands throughout the class sprung up as other students expressed the same problem. Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of the blockbuster bestseller, Between the World and Me, created the 2015 book as a warning letter to his then fifteen-year-old son. Early in the book, he likewise confessed, when I was your age, the only people I knew were black. Coates wrote the book as a message of danger to black America. The essential relationship across American history between black people and white people is one of exploitation and one of plunder.... Here is what I would like for you to know: In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body--it is heritage.... The power of the American state and the weight of an American legacy necessitate that of the bodies destroyed every year, some wild and disproportionate number of them will be black. While his book draws on his own anguished experiences as a black teenager and black man in America, he also widely summons the many stories, past and present, of black oppression in America. When African-American novelist Toni Morrison called Between the World and Me required reading, she cemented his standing as the preeminent African American voice of his generation. Indivisible in no way questions either the truth or the immense importance of the notorious stories which led Coates to his conclusion that the physical threat to black America continues relentlessly. In 1921 Tulsa Oklahoma, a white mob burns down 35 blocks of black residences and businesses. While visiting Mississippi in 1955, Emmitt Till, a 14-year old African American from Chicago, is lynched by two white men. In 1963 Birmingham Alabama, Sheriff Bull Conner directs his police force to use fire hoses and attack dogs on African American Civil Rights protesters. In 1992 Los Angeles, race riots erupt with 63 people killed and over 12,000 arrested. That history carries ceaselessly into the present as stories of black-white conflict continue to seize current headlines. On a 2012 night in Florida, George Zimmerman, a white neighborhood watchman and Trayvon Martin, a black teenager, confront each other and violently struggle. Trayvon dies. In 2014 Ferguson Missouri, a white police officer shoots an unarmed black teenager. The story of white police shooting unarmed black males repeats itself in one American city after another. In Charleston, S.C., a 21-year old white male who self-identified as a white supremacist walks into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and guns down nine church members. When TV show host Stephen Colbert interviewed Coates in 2017, he expressed both understanding and admiration for Coates message. He also offered an opportunity for Coates to soften his stark pessimism. Do you see any hope that we could have better race relations? Coates rejected it. No, I would have to make s--- up to answer that question in a satisfying way. When Colbert and Coates discussed race relations on The Late Show, they were reasonably following the lead of academics, activists who frame the topic of race relations as a national issue. Georgetown Sociology Professor Michael Eric Dyson pronounced, White supremacy is the conscious or unconscious belief in the superiority of some while others are believed to be innately inferior. It is a machine operating in perpetuity. Civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton preached, Discrimination and inequality still saturate our society...through racism may be lass blatant, its existence is undeniable. New York Times column


Richard Tushingham
Richard Gordon
ISBN 10:
Publication Date:
October 14, 2019

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