Between the World and Me Short Essay - Answer Key

Ta-Nehisi Coates
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1. According to the author, why is America blind to it's racially defined shortcomings?

America likes to see itself as the land of equality, with liberty and justice for all. In the current political climate, it is taboo to admit that there is an underlying problem of racial inequality that hasn't been solved by integration and popular culture. In fact, Coates points out that it is the very essence of current white American culture that allows racism to continue while a majority of people believe that the country has reached an enlightened level of racial awareness. Coates disputes this view by pointing out the disproportionate amount of violent acts perpetrated on black bodies and his own personal fear when approached by white police officers.

2. According to the author, how have American police departments been given the right to destroy black bodies without the fear of recrimination?

Coates lists several examples of black men, several of them teenagers, who have been assaulted and even killed by white police officers for minor infractions. The events he lists (Michael Brown in particular), often resulted in the shooter being allowed to walk free with either a minor charges or no reprimand at all. Coates feels that throughout history, white men in authority have always felt they have had the right to target black men, and that this attitude has carried over into the twenty-first century.

(read all 60 Short Essay Questions and Answers)

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