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In that moment the world had become so much smaller and so much bigger.

A new student's response
Author: 
Brianna Mears, Freshman

I fell in love with this book the moment I opened the first page. Coates' rhetoric and the way he phrases his perspective allows for readers of all backgrounds to see the picture he so delicately, yet powerfully paints. One of the first notable quotes in the book draws attention to this understanding that "race is the child of racism, not the father." This realization helped to color the way I saw the rest of the book and with each excerpt I highlighted, I grew more and more aware of the real world around me. Towards the end of the book Coates draws from Thavolia Glymph's Out of the House of Bondage to reveal that the true motive behind the separation of race "has always meant that there was someone down in the valley because a mountain is not a mountain if there is nothing below." But why has American society decided that skin color dictates who is above and below? As citizens we must collectively switch our focus and pull everyone below up to the peak, creating a level grassy plain of equality in our nation.

A few days after I had finished Between the World and Me, Devonté Hynes, one of my favorite artists and the man behind the project called Blood Orange, released a new album. Little did I know that the message of his album, "Freetown Sound", would highlight topics I had just covered in the KU Common Book. Upon reading this article in The New Yorker, I discovered that not only was the discussion of race mirrored in both the book and this album, but Hynes actually sampled Coates' voice for one of his songs. In that moment the world had become so much smaller and so much bigger. Smaller in the sense that two people I had come to love were fighting the same battle side by side through various mediums; bigger in the sense that within the time it took to read Between the World and Me my eyes had been opened to social issues far beyond the scale I had previously believed. There are people in America who are still feeling the effects of oppression by white society long after the end of slavery. As a white teenage girl, I have now vowed to become what is known as a "white ally" and I fully support this book as required reading for the university.

Listen to "Love Ya", track 7 off of Blood Orange's album Freetown Sound, featuring a soundbite of Ta-Nahisi Coates, below.


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