Reading Questions for Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me (2015)

  1. We began the course in June by reading and discussing James Baldwin’s 1963 letter to his nephew in My Dungeon Shook, and we will end by discussing Coates’s 2015 letter to his son in Between the World and Me. What differences and similarities do you see between these two pieces? How do the texts reveal how life for Black people in the US has changed in the past 60 years? How has it remained the same?
  1. Think about Coates’s piece in terms of the title of the study group. How does he understand resilience and resistance as a Black man in the US?
  1. Coates writes, “If the streets shackled my right leg, the schools shackled my left” (25). How does Coates illustrate this assertion in his text?
  1. What is The Mecca and how does it influence Coates?
  1. What is the nature of “The Dream”?
  1. How does the death of Prince Jones affect Coates?
  1. What are the myths that Coates is encouraging his son to critique/question/dismantle?
  1. What role do the photographs play in your interpretation of the text?
  1. What does it mean to be Black? What does it mean to be white?
  1. How does traveling abroad shape Coates?