Between the World and Me

African American History in the Present: Cultural Liberation in Coates's Writing College

There is no doubt that America is a racially divided nation, evidenced by the roots of slavery, the de jure segregation of the Civil Rights era, and even the de facto segregation of the modern school system and neighborhoods. The journey of the black man in America has been long and arduous and still continues today, despite the common belief that racial oppression is dead. Ta-Nehisi Coates, a modern black activist, attempts to uncover this white veil of ignorance in his 2015 account Between the World and Me. Through his analysis of the black struggle, Coates asserts that the history of race and blackness in America suppresses the African American people while simultaneously providing a means of cultural liberation and black identity.

In order to understand the profound effect that the past has on the present, one must first understand the history of the African American struggle. Throughout history, the black body has been consistently enslaved by white power; Coates contends that “sometimes this power is direct (lynching), and sometimes it is insidious (redlining)” (Coates, p. 42). Whether the power is enforced directly though slavery and public beatings or insidiously through prejudiced literacy tests, the white man remains...

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