The pursuit of knowing was freedom to me, the right to declare your own curiosities and follow them through all manner of books. I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free. Slowly, I was discovering myself (p 48).
Framed as an open letter to his adolescent son, Coates writes about his unique, personal experiences and growth (growing up in Baltimore, attending Howard University in D.C., reading Malcolm X) within the context of black life in America, now and in the past.
He recontextualizes “American” history, based on the falsehood of “race,” and its present, based on the continued exploitation of black bodies, threatened, jailed and murdered with impunity.
A powerful, eye-opening book, eloquently and susccinctly stated at every turn, that I recommend everyone read for the questions you will be asking throughout and at its conclusion.
Black people love their children with a kind of obsession. You are all we have, and you have come to us endangered. I think we would like to kill you ourselves before seeing you killed by the streets that America made. This is a philosophy of the disembodied, of a people who control nothing, who can protect nothing, who are made to fear not just the criminals among them but the police who lord over them with all the moral authority of a protection racket (p 82).