The Ability to Empathize in Between the World and Me, a Book by Ta-Nehisis Coates

A large part of reading and experiencing In between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates revolves around the capability to feel sorry for Coates. Coates’s purpose behind writing this book depends on the recent rise of authorities brutality on black people, such as with the murders of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. This inspiration of Coates’s is furthered by his position as a dad, which manifests itself as the book taking type as a letter to his teenage kid. Throughout the book, Coates utilizes stories, both individual and impersonal, to get the reader to see the world through his own eyes, and educate the reader about what it suggests to be black in America in a push to alter the state of today. Coates spends a good deal of time writing about his time at Howard University, his childhood, his boy, and his views on recent murders in order to achieve this goal.

In “Empathy is a Benefit?” by John Paul Rollert in The Atlantic Month-to-month, Rollert writes that the “sustained horror” described by Coates through his accounts of criminal offenses on black individuals “prevents the creative escape of compassion by making the flesh memorable.” This concept of making flesh extraordinary is used by Coates with his technique of forcing the reader to come face-to-face with a very bleak and unfortunate truth of unjustified murders portrayed in a haunting way not typically seen on television or in newspapers. This technique utilized by Coates makes the reader battle with not empathizing on at least some sort of level.

Ultimately, Coates’s rhetoric of detailed stories, and the method he paints those in the stories as people, instead of headlines, makes his argument more effective, because he sets up the reader to feel sorry for not just him, however also those involved in his stories, such as Prince Jones or his own child. In a description of Prince Jones, Coates wrote “His face was lean, brown, and stunning, and throughout that face, I saw the open, easy smile of Prince Carmen Jones” (77 ). If Coates had left out such touching and visceral accounts of lots of occasions, Coates’s function of education would fall deaf on numerous ears, particularly white readers.

However, something Coates either stops working to recognizes or chooses to disregard is the reality that empathy requires to flows both ways in his writing. Coates’s inability to remove from his own self and step away from his, although warranted, anger potentially injures his trustworthiness. The amount of anger in his rhetoric and absence of personal empathizing might deter some readers from wanting to keep an open mind or adopt Coates’s perspective. When writing the difference between black and white kids, Coates stated “No one informed those little white children, with their tricycles, to be twice as good. I pictured their parents informing them to take twice as much” (91 ). Coates’s hostility towards children and his presumptions of how white parents raise their children can easily create offense, due to the fact that of how major parenthood is to many parents. Coates tends to make generalizations about white individuals as an entire, all while asking for white individuals to stop making generalizations about black individuals as a whole. This sort of double requirement can set Coates’s rhetorical circumstance up for failure, due to the fact that it provides Coates’s reputation room to appear void and his argument extremely prejudiced.

When speaking about President Obama, Rollert discusses Obama’s writing in The Audacity of Hope, particularly, “to think clearly about race, then, requires us to see the world on a split screen … to acknowledge the sins of the past and the difficulties of the present without becoming caught in cynicism or misery.'” Coates’s “trauma of fearfulness” hurts his capability to preserve a non-cynical perspective, and this appears in his account of the events on 9/11 by stating “my heart was cold. I had disasters all my own.” Also, his slander of “the ludicrous pageantry of flags, the machismo of firemen, the overwrought motto. Damn it all.” Although Coates may have every right to be mad, his anger must not suggest trivializing such a large occasion in American history that a lot of people feel highly about. His negativity towards 9/11, in addition to how typically he slams the merits of the American Dream, may impede the capability of some readers to feel sorry for Coates, since they themselves may begin to feel assaulted. Coates’s entire purpose relies greatly on his readers’ ability to empathize. Coates desires all of his readers to feel sorry for him, because it is his best chance of convincing his readers of his argument. When Coates starts to toe the line of what is and is not offending, this harms his opportunities of all of his readers empathizing with him.

Conveniently, there is an example of how this cynical rhetoric utilized by Coates affects a reader’s perspective. In The New York Times article “Listen to Ta-Nehisi Coates While White”, author David Brooks writes “However the distributing obstacle of your book is your rejection of the American Dream.” Brooks’s individual connection with the American Dream, specifically the immigration of his ancestors, caused his discontent with Coates’s view of the Dream. However, this leads back to the argument that Coates’s book is a book that needs empathy and a separated viewpoint. Brooks’s post’s title first means this mistake, due to the fact that Coates did not want this to book to be checked out “while white”. In Rollert’s “Compassion is an Opportunity?”, Rollert argues “A capacity for compassion relies not just on a determination to enter the shoes of another person, however the ability to step away from yourself.” Brooks not only has an objection to step into the shoes of Coates due to Coates’s cynicism, but likewise hesitates or not able to separate from his own self. This failure leads to Brooks misinterpreting the whole point of Coates’s book, presuming as to be racist himself.

In order to avoid this issue, Coates’s storytelling tries to dissuade the reader from keeping a hostile point of view similar to Brooks. An essential story in Coates’s book is the murder of Prince George, who Coates had somewhat of a relationship with. Coates specifically uses this story rather of the story of someone like Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown, because of his relationship to Prince George. This relationship allows Coates a much better capability to draw more compassion from the reader. Coates spends a good deal of time on the details of Prince George’s murder, such as how he “had been driving house to see his fiancée. He was killed lawns from her house.” A rhetorical technique that Coates is aggressively using is his attract feeling by pointing out essential parts of the story, such as Prince George’s fiancée and his mother. Together with using storytelling to produce compassion, Coates focuses on the reader’s ability to feel pity and regret. Coates claims that “Prince was not eliminated by a single officer even he was killed by his nation and all the fears that have marked it from birth” (78 ). Shortly after, Coates details how obviously unjustified the murder was, by describing the contradictions in the authorities report. This claim and the obvious contradictions can make the reader feel a sense of pity, as if this murder was partly their fault. The shame furthers the empathy felt by the reader, which helps Coates’s function of attempting to educate readers in such a way that makes them wish to make a change.

Naturally, there is likewise the rhetorical method of the letter format of this book. The book is suggested to be a letter to his son, and throughout the book, Coates speaks straight to his boy. This one-sided discussion opens a new method for readers to understand, because the bond in between a parent and child is so hugely comprehended. Two bottom lines in the book are his child’s reaction to Michael Brown’s case, and how Prince George’s death offered Coates a brand-new perspective when it pertains to his own kid. Coates detailed how when Michael Brown’s killer was not indicted that his son told him “I have actually got to go”, simply to leave to his room to cry about the injustice. This makes Michael Brown’s murder no long a heading about a black man illegally offering cigarettes; instead, it is now about a fifteen-year old, black kid coming face to face with the truth of the bigotry and bias that exists around him. Gradually, Coates leads the readers to see stories, such as Michael Brown, in a bigger picture instead of how headings represent the story. This is how Coates’s argument and purpose is ending up being effective. This method of using his own boy is advanced when Coates writes of his own battle of how these bias and incidents affect his relationship with his son. After detailing Jones’s death, Coates explains how he recognized that “you would not get away, that there were terrible guys who had laid plans for you, and I might not stop them.” In this, Coates is interesting the viewpoint of a moms and dad, particularly what it must resemble to feel unable to safeguard your kid from a world that seems out to get them. This strategy of using his son allows for Coates to expand his grab compassion, due to the fact that it plays on so many relatable parts of many people’s lives. A bigger reach implies a better job done at convincing his readers to see the world through his eyes, which is a substantial part of his technique to make his argument as efficient as possible.

Although Coates has some restraints working against him, such as the magnitude of his anger and how it warps his ability to attract some audiences at times, he does a remarkable and efficient job of persuading the reader and getting them to feel what he himself is feeling on a little scale. Coates’s options in his diction, framing, and stories are really purposeful, since he understands what it takes to get people to care. And by doing it enough, Coates makes it near difficult for his reader to ignore his palpable worry, anger, and sadness over race relations in America. There is a good deal more to stories than just supplying evidence. And there is a great deal more included when reading and experiencing this book than simply moving your eyes throughout the pages; the reader should march from their own world and into Coates’s in order to totally grasp what Coates is trying to achieve here.