Essay on Warnings From A Damaged America

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Warnings from a Damaged America

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, is arranged in a wholly different manner than all of the other works we have previously studied in the tradition - in the form of a letter, from father to son. Whilst we have discussed several works that were spoken to specific audiences - such as speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X - this letter takes the everyday experience of an African American living in the United States and makes it more personal. However, Coates also takes the common approach to explaining life as a black American and turns it on its head. Instead of just showing how white Americans treat people with color, he speaks of how his experience as a black man has made him view them and law enforcement differently.
One particularly poignant moment in the letter is when he speaks of his September 11 story. While Americans mourned their sense of safety in a new country faced with the looming threat of terrorism, Coates stood on the balcony with his family and came to the conclusion that this was not his defining tragedy. “But looking down upon the ruins of America, my heart was cold. I had disasters all my own. The officer who killed Prince Jones, like all the other officers who regard us so warily, was the sword of American citizenry” (86). Those who had felt a relative sense of safety before, who saw disaster as a sudden change were not African Americans. The people who stood on the streets in their candlelight…

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