Ta-Nehisi Coates’ NYTimes bestseller was selected for our reading group recently.
It’s a book length letter to his adolescent son Samori, searingly honest, biting, warning him how hard it will be for him to grow up as an African-American. “Racism,” he writes, “is a visceral experience” which rips at the black body.
Hope that things will get better? Not much here. Hope is “specious.” And he makes clear he has no hope in God or the church.
Yet toward the end he tells of a conversation with Dr. Mabel Jones, a teacher whose son Prince was shot by police on a Maryland road. As he listened to Dr. Jones talk of what the church meant to her he writes,
“I thought of my own distance from an institution that has, so often, been the only support of our people. I often wonder if in that distance I’ve missed something, some notions of cosmic hope, some wisdom beyond my mean physical perception of the world, something beyond the body, that I might have transmitted to you. I wondered that … because something beyond anything I have ever understood drove Mabel Jones to an exceptional life.”
Leaving her house he asks his son to hope for the “Dreamers.” (That’s his word for white folks). “Pray for them,” he asks.
I hope Samori will pray for my children and grandchildren. I pray for him. I pray for myself.
Mercy, Lord, Mercy.
And thank you Lord for Mabel Jones.
Photo cred: citypaper.com