Last Monday The New York Post posted an article about some of the required reading required of college freshman in a number of American colleges this year. The students are required to read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me.” The book deals with the author’s fear and hatred of police and white political power structures. This is not a book that will encourage law-abiding, successful college graduates. This is a book that will encourage racial division, class envy, and a skewed view of America and how it works.
The article reports:
Coates promotes the view that blacks are helpless to improve their situation given the white supremacy they face. In Coates’ world, whites cannot erase the stain of racism and instead many strive to control black bodies through violence. Coates’ book gives intellectual weight to the just-released platform by a Black Lives Matter-affiliated group, which stresses how “the interlinked systems of white supremacy, imperialism, capitalism and patriarchy shape the violence we face.” (It also claims the United States “is complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people.”)
The first problem with seeing the world through this lens is that it isn’t true. As liberal political analyst Nate Cohn has pointed out, outside the South, President Obama received a larger share of the white vote in 2012 than either of the two previous Democratic presidential nominees.
But Coates’ thesis is contradicted by Coates himself. In his previous book, “The Beautiful Struggle,” he chronicled his life growing up in Baltimore. It documented the senselessness of black-on-black crime, the lack of proper parenting. There are no racist police or teachers in sight.
“Lexington Terrace was hot with gonorrhea. Teen pregnancy was the fashion,” he wrote. “Husbands were outties. Fathers were ghosts.”
“The Beautiful Struggle” fit into a narrative of “culture of despair” that, at that time, liberal sociologists Melissa Kearney and Kathryn Edin used to explain the continued prevalence of high black teen birth rates. But times have changed, and that sort of analysis is considered akin to blaming the victim. Better to highlight, if not exaggerate, black victimization. And with the proper lens, a modest number of police killings of black men serves this purpose.
It is truly sad that this book won the National Book Award for nonfiction.
The article further reports:
Besides providing a diversion, the use of Coates’ venomous book as freshman reading, taught by English instructors, is dangerous. First, it gives the book’s claims credibility. This in a campus atmosphere where, as Nicholas Kristof lamented in his New York Times essay “A Confession of Liberal Intolerance,” criticisms of Coates’ perspective inevitably will be dismissed as the complaints of ignorant racist apologists.
How much are parents paying for their children to be taught this trash? America is far from perfect, but there are many people of all races who have risen to leadership positions in both the public and private sector. To focus on the problems in America without celebrating the successes does not give the students a balanced picture of the country. That focus also encourages a victim mentality that will prevent the students from reaching their full potential when they graduate.