Literature Study GuidesBetween The World And Me

Between the World and Me | Study Guide

Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Course Hero. "Between the World and Me Study Guide." June 7, 2019. Accessed September 29, 2023.


Course Hero, "Between the World and Me Study Guide," June 7, 2019, accessed September 29, 2023,



Ta-Nehisi Coates

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At a Glance

Ta-Nehisi Coates (b. 1975) wrote the book-length essay Between the World and Me at a time when violence against African American people, often perpetrated by police officers or white men, was frequently in the news. In several high-profile cases, the police and white perpetrators were allowed to go free based simply on their belief that they were in danger. In some cases the victims were children or elderly women. The sense of outrage, particularly among the African American community, began to grow. Coates was a rising star among African American voices, having tackled issues of race and racism in several well-known essays and one other book, a memoir about his childhood in Baltimore, Maryland. In Between the World and Me Coates again draws on his own experiences, utilizing his influence as a well-known essayist and social critic to make possible the uncomfortable analysis of America's cultural heritage of violence against African American people. The essay's unique perspective and its fearless examination of the darkest parts of American history and society make it an essential read for anyone looking to understand the issues facing America today.

About the Title

The title of the book-length essay is also the title of American writer Richard Wright's poem, "Between the World and Me." The poem describes the experience of an African American man happening upon a lynching (to be put to death by a mob, usually by hanging) and feeling its "sooty details" as a separation "between the world and me." In the essay Coates examines the great difference between the way he experiences the world and the ways others experience it, particularly those who enjoy racial privilege in America. For African Americans, American history and present reality involve the destruction and commodification of their bodies. For white people, America is a land of freedom and democratic ideals. The essay explores this divide through the lens of Coates's experience growing up in West Baltimore, Maryland.


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