You can check out a .pdf of the University of Kansas Common Book Reader's Guide for Between the World and Me here. This guide includes reflections on the text by faculty, staff, and current students of KU.
“After a year I watched the boy with the small eyes pull out a gun, my father beat me for letting another boy steal from me. Two years later, he beat me for threatening my ninth-grade teacher. Not being violent enough could cost me my body. Being too violent could cost me my body.”
"This need to be always on guard was an unmeasured expenditure of energy, the slow siphoning of the essence. It contributed to the fast breakdown of our bodies. So I feared not just the violence of this world but the rules designed to protect you from it, the rules that would have you contort your body to address the block, and contort again to be taken seriously by colleagues, and contort again so as not give the police a reason."
How does my college experience set the course for the rest of my life? Was college as transformational and affirming for me as it was for Ta-Nehisi Coates? I find myself continually asking this question when I read over this passage of the book. I attended a predominately white institution, in many ways far removed from the “Black Mecca” that Coates experienced at Howard. However, my time in college absolutely helped to solidify and set the course for the rest of my life. In some ways my thoughts about the world and my place in it were affirmed by my institution.
In my nearly 50 years of living here in Kansas, there have been a couple of occasions where I, as my mother would say, “ran into boys looking for trouble.”
Both times involved young adults with firearms. Both times, no one was injured.
For me, these incidents made me understand how precious life can be. For some, the thought of violence happens every day.
It’s the idea that violence comes to a physical body like rain, unprepared and unexpected.
When your mind must work to protect its body from violence, where do your thoughts go from there?