The short book is written in the style of an earnest, poetic, forthright letter to his 15 year old. Never before have I read a book about someone’s life so much different than mine and it was an eye opening, enlightening and humane experience. I don’t know of anyone’s life to be as unfortunate in a developed nation as is the life of a person of color in America. (although I could see strong similarities in the challenges faced by the lower caste people and minorities in India). The letter is a narrative of his personal background and experiences, interesting and insightful stories from his own childhood, upbringing and youth, lessons he learnt from his life and the ones he wants his son to have the knowledge of.
There was no assuaging of emotions or mincing of words, he has written straight from the heart, a practical advice, that his son must learn how to live in this white-centric world where everyone is going after ‘the dream’. I personally agreed with his idea of of the dream as described in the book. (I myself came to the US seeking the same dream.) Racism exists and it has been institutionalized in front of our eyes. Ta-Nehisi initiates that perception for me, helping me see it in the slightest of behavior, action and words.
He points out similarities in the experiences of the black people from the time of his parents, to himself, to his son’s, and this helped me grasp the frustration and anger. I understood much better the oppression and helplessness that his community deals with.
I liked his poetic ramblings. He derailed a bit into trivial details a few times in the beginning not adding value to the main topic but I found it entertaining. I was pleased that he extended the idea of ‘the dream’ to not only resulting in unfair conduct to a race of color but also to how we have started taking nature for granted and accelerated the destruction of it.
The book requires keeping an open, imaginative and non judgmental mind every time he talks about ‘the Dream’ or ‘the white-skinned people’. That was the only way to empathize and genuinely comprehend their angst and fear.
If there was one important thing that I had to share that I learnt from the book, it is that they are asking for justice, and justice equal to all those pursuing ‘the dream’ and to the ‘white-skinned people’.
It is a beautiful book and I highly recommend it to anyone seeking to understand the life of an African American from their point of view.