Some questions from Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates


Some questions from Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (designed for 文化村英文读书会 by 吕行)

1. Why do you think Coates decided to format the book as a letter to his son? Why is it effective? (Fun fact: the book wasn’t formatted this way until the book’s fourth draft!)

2. Coates praises Malcolm X for being “the first pragmatist I knew” (p. 36) and speaking like “a man who was free” (p. 36). Do you think Coates would describe his own writing in this book as such?

3. How does he differentiate between the racist individual and racism as an institution? Does he believe there is a difference? How does the moment in the movie theater with his son speak to both?

4. Who are the Dreamers? What does he mean when he says “The Dream is the enemy of all art?” (p. 50)

5. Coates claims that he has not spent his life studying the “problem of race” (p. 115) and yet many would argue that the problem of race is this book’s very focal point. Why is this an important contradiction?

6. What is “the black body?” (p. 35) Who are those who “believe they are white?” (p. 42)

7. What did Coates gain at Howard University that he feels other universities in America could not offer?

8. Describe why Coates felt more freedom as a foreigner in France than as an American. Why did he feel it was important to take his son to Paris?

9. How does he differentiate between the violence at home (in the form of corporal punishment) and the violence experienced by the black body outside of home?

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