Between Me and the World”” and “”Holler if You Hear Me”” are books that have particularly been written to address the racial injustices in America; how they arise and their effect on the lives and relationships of the residents at large. In both texts, the authors have largely concentrated on the African American neighborhood and their struggles with racism. The authors examine certain events and relationships of the major subjects of their books and use this to inform their views on the topic of racial discrimination and the effect this has on the black community. While Coates fully blames the whites for perpetuating racist ideas and attitudes, Dyson, on the other hand, does admit that this also comes from some of the behaviors and attitudes that African Americans adopt such as condoning violence.
In “Between Me and the World” the author Ta-Nehisi Coates, sets out to disprove popular myths. Among these myths is the belief that race is a tangible concept that is proved by the differences of hue and hair prove amongst different races. Coates begins by exploring how the concept of which race can be considered white has constantly changed during various periods in history (Coates 7). This would then make the idea of blackness and the black race a construct which was made to ensure that there was a lowermost race that would be used to establish a racial hierarchy. Coates explains that without the there being a lesser race than all others, the hierarchy would not be able to hold (Coates 7). The author argues that the lack of clear knowledge by the public of how racism truly works makes eradication of racism impossible to eradicate.
Dyson explores the racial challenges of African Americans through the life of music icon Tupac Shakur. In the book, he explores the environment and belief systems present in African American communities. The author has used one of Tupac Shakur`s anthems against racism in America as his title perhaps as a tribute and continuation of Shakur`s message in the song. By looking into the life of one of the most iconic black artists, Dyson advances the message of inequality that Tupac had advanced in his song whose inspiration was his own experiences. The book provides a longer and more in-depth look at the conditions that many young men from the black community find themselves in.
To advance his message in the book, Dyson has used the life of Tupac to represent the lives of individuals of color; exploring the genuine hardships that they face as well as the mistakes they also make. Tupac finds himself having to take care of his mother who had become an addict of crack cocaine (Dyson 22). This made him hate his mother since he was being forced to grow up in a world that was full of struggles especially for people of color. This eventually forced Tupac to drop out of school. The author explores how the artist saw the world during this period and how it would later be reflected in his music (Dyson 45). Dyson explores some of these themes in Tupac`s music where he reveals some of the negative mindsets and ills that are present in hip-hop and could be blamed for perpetuating the ills associated with the black society. Misogyny and the lack of respect for older members of the society are some of the things that the writer finds wrong with the African American community (Dyson 176).
The author uses Tupac`s childhood as an example of how many in the black community grow up; with irresponsible and absent parents which denies them the opportunity to concentrate on improving themselves through academics. The lack of strong parenting figures is what leads many young men and women to seek comfort and direction that they lack at home in dangerous activities such as drugs and gangs (Dyson 39). Most of these individuals come from single-parent homes in which it is mostly the fathers who are missing.
These young people develop a hate for the older generations especially their mothers for their lack of responsibility (Dyson 175). This is represented by the misogyny that is popular in black hip-hop culture. In this sense, the author presents some of the cultures and beliefs that are held by the black community as the ones holding them back and not the racial attitudes that exist in America. The author does not discredit the African American assertion that racism exists he suggests that the community also plays a role in advancing some of these stereotypes and that they can sometimes be hypocritical.
Coates speaks against the hypocrisy of the American nation which advertises its democracy and superior human rights while at home it knowingly turns a blind eye to the glaring racial injustices and inequality that exist within the system (Coates 8). This author uses the outward image of equality that America cultivates to advance its diplomatic agenda against it by proving that the American culture is not what it seems to be. He argues that it is this self-aggrandizing behavior that has led to the continued perpetuation of racial injustices in the country with no end in sight.
Coates also explains why members of the black community act aggressive, loud, and rude. According to him, African Americans act that way to fill in the vacuum of power and security that is present due to the marginalization they feel from mainstream American society (Coates 22). He also argues that America was made from violent uprisings and the glorification of peaceful black revolutionary leaders while vilifying the militaristic leaders was hypocritical (Coates 32).
The author argues that even if African Americans adhere to the law and avoid the negative mindsets of associated with their community, they will still face racism just citing the case of Prince Jones as an example (Coates 77). Coates demonstrates that for African Americans, attaining the American dream is not possible since the system is rigged against them and the few that make it turn their backs on the communities that they come from. He uses the analogy of human bodies to explain how he fears his son may grow up and realize that his black body is held to a lower standard than that of whites who do not have to fear any discrimination on account of their race (Coates 152). Coates, therefore, educates and warns his son to expect to be maltreated by the society in which he will grow up in.
Both Dyson and Coates have presented the black race as having equal dignity as that of other races. However, this is not so in the current American society where African Americans endure systemic injustices in the hands of their white counterparts. Coates insists that the hypocritical attitude adopted by what can be considered as the mainstream society is what perpetuates the devaluing of the black body. According to him, society looks on as the African Americans endure systemic injustices. Dyson, on the other hand, argues that African Americans also contribute to these stereotypes adopted by the society at large. Some of these actions include the devaluing of parental figures in the society occasioning rampant drug use and immorality associated with black communities. Though the two authors differ on the causes, they, however, both agree that racism is part of American culture.
Dyson, Michael Eric. Holler If You Hear Me (2006). Civitas Books, 2006. Pp
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the world and me. Text publishing, 2015. Pp 21-231