Between the World and Me:
Coates is speaking to his son in a letter format.
He talks about his enemies and how he cannot control them, but he can control how he acts about
He talks about pride and staying together, because black people are a wise people, who
understand that the road that they are walking on was built on slavery and rape, and that his son
must not believe the lies of a better life because it is not in the cards for him.
He talks about how he “could- and must- fashion the way of our walk” he talks about respect and
that he has taught his son to respect everyone as singular, and that that respect must extend to the
He embodies slavery, not as a definable mass of flesh but as a woman with an active mind, born
into a world screaming freedom at the top of its lungs but has her roots in slavery. Her mom a
slave, her father a slave, her daughter enslaved. Her history is enslaved.
“NEVER FORGET THAT WE HAVE BEEN ENSLAVED IN THIS COUNTRY LONGER
THAN WE HAVE BEEN FREE”
he is teaching his son about struggles that he, as a black boy, will have to endure. That the
struggles he will face are unlike that of any other boy. That he must carry the burden of black
bodies and the way that the white man treated them. That he must not believe the fairy tails that
slavery will find redemption, that the present makes up for the past. NOTHING makes up for the
“you cannot forget how much they took from us and how they transfigured our very bodies into
sugar, tobacco cotton, and gold”
The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano:
Olaudah writes about his life as a child, idle and free. Him being the youngest and therefore the
“trained in the art of war” –he had to learn from a young age how to fight to fend of people who
would otherwise capture him
when the adults went to go work, him and the other children would band together to play and one
would go up in a tree to keep watch in case captors came
one day everything changed, an intruder came into his house and abductd him and his sister
before they could react
he writes sympathetically, appealing to emotions. Using descriptive words to vividly describe his
The only power that Olaudah had over his own being was the food he refused to eat, and even
then they would either force feed him or make him starve.
The living conditions were putrid, most of the people below deck almos died from the stench and
He describes the true savages as the Europeans treating other humans in ways that he has never
seen before. They refused to give them food and the living conditions below deck were so horrid
that they tried to commit suicide and those who failed in their attempt were severely flogged.
Death was preferred over the life of slavery. A History of a Voyage to the Coast of Africa:
When Joseph Hawkins travel to the coast of Africa he was in shock. He had never seen people of
different colors from different countries
He thought that the curiosity that they held (the people in Africa, women in particular) was sexual
The women and children gawked and approached him with curiosity in an innocent level. Since
he had never experienced that, he thought it was of a sexual manner
He thought they were sexually charged in their curiosity, and still shamed them for it (thus
ethnographic voyeurism comes in play, as he was curious and noted their mannerisms and deemed
them sexual but “less than”
Their natural ways included nudity, but in the Euro sense it was shameful to be so exposed
"...the sense of shame is totally disconnected with their ideas on this head..."
He understands that there is a form punishment/fine if one was disrespected or disgraced, though
he thought their form was odd since it was not of monetary value rather was husbandry was the
Women’s Marriage and Childbearing, 1832
When the guy came to that tribe, he went with the intent to observe marriage and their customs.
He (first) mentions that "God ordained that man should have woman" and thought that it was
such an ancient tradition in all nations to give the women to their husbands
In this case he was observing the courting process
The man would stand outside of her house, wait till she was alone, propose and then the pseudo
"evaluation" process took place within the house of the bride
He would hunt and bring food while she cooked and cleaned, all the while the bridegroom would
judge whether or not she would be a "lazy" bride or a "good" bride
When the wedding came, there would be a feast and the whole ordeal would take about 3-4 days
The person, priest or whatever that came to observe and take notes on the native marriage didn't
consider it a true marriage due to the fact that there was no marriage contact and that they were
able to get a divorce, something completely foreign to Europeans as their marriage customs are
"till death do they part"
He even specified that the women, during childbirth would not have time off, they would do their
business in giving birth and not have pain.
He inadvertent states that they are far from God as the christin religion states that since Eve ate
from the forbidden fruit