Wound up in another window seat across the Pacific. It is nice to be able to occupy wall space, where I can keep things out of direct leg room, without it affecting anyone else. And the window is holds magical views which I can now control, for a while. The bright sunlight is a pleasure to read by what I was reading was remarkable. We’ll get to that, but first I will state the obvious: I’d trade all this storage and thirty thousand foot views, for the convenience of the aisle. I managed a strategic bathroom run when the dude on the outside slid off after lunch. Darkness has been imposed and so as to not interrupt with the movie viewing of others, my window is now drawn down.
Ta-Nehisi Coates “Between the World and Me” is a medicine ball to the belly. My step mother had recommended it. I recalled that a friend had mentioned it, as well. It was already there in my "saved for later" bin on Amazon and I bought it impulsively. It was there, amidst my book pile I’d had sent to SF. The book is one hundred and fifty pages in length and I imagined finishing it quickly on the plane and after the ‘chicken with rice’ was served, I falteringly began and quickly decided this would be read straight, until it was done.
Written to a son, who is the same age as my daughter, the 'just us” quality of the correspondence made for an unsettlingly intimate device. He must have been the age of many, many students whom I’d taught in Brownsville, Brooklyn. The reference points, cultural sign posts all reminding me. This perhaps a conversation with what might have happened if one of my students had sharpened and sharpened and sharpened their written voice through their work, until it was burnished into something sharp and prescient.
Part of why Mr. Coates explanation is so powerful, is that he is conveying to his son something all other readers assume they already know. But he is able to do this is way that feels new, cutting and useful. It is appropriate to ritually wrestle with the questions that were never adequately answered. Coates does not buttress his case as a Christian, Muslim, a Marxist, nor as a playah, but rather as a father. This proves shattering. Freshened and utterly humbled as a I return to this, my own written effort.
I suspect I might be able to convince my older daughter to read this book. I wonder if she’ll think of us, when Coates goes with his wife and son to Paris and talks about what he wanted for his boy, playing in a Parisian playground. United is forcing me to watch a movie for ‘people who believe they’re white” setting up and massaging one racist paradigm after another. I can’t hear a thing. But it feels caustic, like some kind of public pornography.