Sunday, August 30

the beautiful struggle: ta-nehisi coates

book info: published in 2008 by Spiegel & Grau
author info: Ta-Nehisi Coates is a writer hailing from Baltimore, Maryland. He is the son of Paul Coates, founder of Black Classic Press.

In his memoir, The Beautiful Struggle , Ta-Nehisi Coates eloquently captures the struggles of coming of age in Baltimore in the late 80s and early 90s. The story begins with Coates and his brother Big Bill finding themselves surrounded by a neighborhood posse on their turf. A microcosm of life during the times, Coates explains the perils of life under his father's unorthodox method of raising children, his non-traditional family, and acquiring the "knowledge" in West Baltimore. A cultural gem, this story remembers the genesis of hip-hop, the black nationalist movement (with which is father was involved), and the crack epidemic and response. Supported by their father's burgeoning Black Classic Press, Coates' family was unique in that his father and seven children by four women, yet all of his siblings were a part of his life. Coates also remembers his education both within public school and the African community, as he was initiated into Ankobea in Washington DC. The long road to manhood for the Coates clan would end up in DC, at the Mecca (Howard University), where Paul Coates was able to send them for free as a result of his employment at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.


"To be a black male is to be always at war, and no flight to the county can save us, because even there we are met by the assumption of violence, by the specter of who we might turn on next. I was ravaged by the plague of my fallen old town and reengineered. They took my wings, handed me a blade. I lost so much of myself out there. My dreams shrank into survival and mere dignity and respect. But in my djembe, I found art and my lost imagination, and now from heavy hands to making a drum sing--what more was out there? How far did it all really go?"