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The issue of racial discrimination among the African American in the United States has been there for long. The white supremacy has dominated over the centuries, and this has called upon many writers, activists, and politicians coming out to defend the blacks. Baldwin in his letter to his nephew in 1963 speaks of the plight of the blacks in America. The police killings and the discrimination was so emanate and the suffering was also profound. The letter tells his nephew that America is his home and they should make it whatever they would wish it to become. It was the same vision that Martin Luther King Jr. had. It was the dream of making America a better place where the blacks and the whites could coexist peacefully. Baldwin simply writes that "This is your home, my friend, do not be driven from it; great men have done great things here, and will again, and we can make America what America must become." (Baldwin, pg.24).The writing of Mr. Coates's in his expressionistic book 'Between the World and Me' shows the sufferings that being a black young man in America one would face. Similar to Baldwin's writing he also writes a letter to his 14-year-old son. He describes to him what it means to be 'black' in America and the white supremacy that has dominated over the years. He speaks of the violence from both the police and also other white civilians towards the black people. "You have always to be on guard," he writes this in his letter to his son (Coates, pg .50). It shows the level at which the blacks are persecuted. "...feared not only the violence of this world but also the rules that were designed to protect you from it..." he asserts that the rules are crooked and thus cannot protect the black minority from the violence. Mr. Coates speaks of 'the dream' which is rather confusing in the text. This is because the dream is based on the dominance by the whites. He describes their state as being in a dream which they are afraid to wake up and face the reality (Coates, pg .50).
The whites live in the suburbs where every other person would want to live. They enjoy fancy lives which they have acquired through years of enslaving the blacks (Kakutani, par. 5).They also have undergone many years where the black population was not given a chance to take part in the election thus infringing their rights. He continues to reiterate that they have simply lived 'false' lives based on 'the dream', "they have forgotten, because to remember would tumble them out of the beautiful Dream and force them to live down here with us, down here in the world." (Kakutani, par. 6).He feels the grief and pain after his friend (Prince Jones) is gunned down and killed brutally by the policemen. The police shot on him with 16 bullets while in Howard University (Kakutani, par. 9).Jones had hailed from a middle-income family where his parents would afford private schools and the trips to Europe. However, the fact that he was black made difference with the rest of the people. This makes Mr. Coates have contempt on all the policemen. He sees no difference between the white and the black policemen as their main aim is to suppress and oppress the African American in U.S. However, it is sarcastic that Mr. Coates rejoices when polices are killed by gunned men in an act of terrorism.
Toni Morrison like many other writers feels that the book by Mr. Coates comes in to fill the void that was left by Baldwin. The void is the story of the racial discrimination on the blacks that has continued over the centuries. Little has been done to curb the vice and even the law enforcers continue to persecute their subjects. This argument continues on and until the right measures are put in place the African American will never have equal rights.
There is also the civil rights era photographer Steve Schapiro. He went throughout the time period collecting the photographs that showed the discrimination against the blacks. They were protests in all the places and this was a good moment to capture the scenarios. Photojournalism was an important media that was used to pass the message before the era of videos and also social media (Thrasher, par. 4). Schapiro captures many photos including those of great people such as Martin Luther King Jr. before he became the 'king' and reknown lead during the civil rights era. The photojournalism similar to the writings brought in changes during the civil war era and this can be seen through the statement made by Schapiro, "Photojournalism did make a difference in bringing attention to the civil rights movement and in helping to change attitudes around the country."
The world can never be that better place if we do not make it that. The slogan by President Trump during his campaign was to 'Make America Great Again' but how could this be made possible. Baldwin however, in his letter tells his nephew that their country will become what it must become. It is an issue of what it 'must become' (Thrasher, par. 7).The ideas of the people should be driven towards ensuring that the people become one no matter the color of their skin, ethnicity, origin, gender or religion. The writings of both Baldwin and Coates reveal that much more has not changed between 1963 and 2015. The African American population continue going through the same troubles that they went through 50 years ago.
Baldwin, James. The fire next time. Vintage, 2013.Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the world and me. Text publishing, 2015.
Kakutani, Michiko. "Review: In 'Between the World and Me,? Ta-Nehisi Coates Delivers a Searing Dispatch to His Son." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia, 9 July 2015, www.nytimes.com/2015/07/10/books/review-in-between-the-world-and-me-ta-nehisi-coates-delivers-a-desperate-dispatch-to-his-son.html.
Steven W Thrasher. "How James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time Still Lights the Way Towards Equality." The Guardian, 20 Sept. 2017, www.theguardian.com/books/2017/apr/04/james-baldwin-the-fire-next-time-steve-shapiro.
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