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Chloé S. Valdary 📚 @cvaldary
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I started reading, 'Between the World and Me' a while ago but stopped because I wanted to center my analysis of Coates in other readings by Baldwin, Dubois, Emerson, &others. My conclusion after revisiting Coates was revulsion and the feeling of an insult to my intelligence.
My thoughts: 1)Yes Coates is a beautiful writer but beauty is no excuse for sanctimonious pity. The human experience is too varied & individual to allow the wholesale objectification of human beings both black and white & the elevation of despair & call it beautiful.
2) If one were to excavate the rich mines of Black literature, perpetual despair is arguably anti-our heritage & our legacy. Whether you're talking about our music or books, there is great contradiction between Coates's book & many of our greatest writers.
3a) One of the biggest flaws in Coates's way of thinking is in his projecting his trauma onto other people both white and black. He assumes the worst in people because the worst happened to him.
3b) A Steinbeck teaching comes to mind: "And once a boy has suffered rejection, he will find rejection even when it does not exist -- or worst, will draw it forth from people simply by expecting it."
4) Everyone is reduced to an object. Black peoples actions are a product of white people. White people are a product of white supremacy which exists on a cosmic plane. Coates claims to be an atheist but he isn't; he is superstitious about white power and writes like It's a deity
5) The great irony of course is that objects can't take responsibility for their actions; Only human beings can. Imperfect but not irredeemable; complex not shallow - only human beings can take responsibility for their actions.
6) It is thus no surprise that at the end of 'Between the world and Me,' we arrive at the place of no hope. There can be no hope of white supremacy isn't the product of human choice but instead the cosmic force of nature itself 🙄All that is left is to "struggle" against nature.
7) The white woman pushing his son could have only done so because of racism, because all Coates sees is racism because he believes racism is cosmic. Now of course this make no sense at all, and it is baffling why anyone would think otherwise
8. What is subtly apparent is the unprocessed, unhealed trauma of Coates's Baltimore experience being transferred onto everything else he encounters in life. This trauma is also cosmic, the religious blueprint that informs relationships with everyone else, both black and white
9. And what is infuriating is the fact that shallow acolytes worship at the altar of someone whose ideas conclude that we are nothing but objects -- which is quite literally dehumanizing.
10. In other words, I am deeply insulted because the conclusion of Coates's book is that I am destined to aimlessly struggle against the great deity that is whiteness; the conclusion is that I am not a human being.
11. I will end with two quotes, one by Steinbeck and one by Dubois. They are a bit long so bear with me:
12a. "You're pretty full of yourself. You're marveling at the tragic spectacle of Caleb Trask -- Caleb the magnificent, the unique. Caleb whose suffering should have its Homer. Did you ever think of yourself as a snot-nose kid -- mean sometimes, incredibly generous sometimes?...
12b. "Dirty in your habits, and curiously pure in your mind. Maybe you have a little more energy than most, just energy, but outside of that you're very like all the other snot-nose kids...
12c."We are a violent people, Cal...Maybe it's true that we are all descended from the restless, the nervous, the criminals, the argues and brawlers, but also the brave and independent and generous.
12d. "If our ancestors had not been that, they would have stayed in their home plots...and starved over the squeezed out soil."

East of Eden, Steinbeck
13a."And finally, beyond all this, it must develop men. Above our modern socialism and out of the worship of the mass, must persist and evolve the higher individualism which the centers of culture project; there must come a loftier respect for the sovereign human soul that...
13b. " know itself and the world about it; that seeks a freedom for expansion and self-development; that will love...and labor in its own way, untrammeled alike by old and new. Such souls aforetime have inspired and guided worlds, and if we be not wholly bewitched...
13c. " our Rhine-gold, they shall again."

W.E.B. Dubois
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