One text/topic that had a large impact on the way I think is Between the World and Me, by Ta-Neshisi Coates. I understand that in the present day there are still serious issues regarding race and inequality, however, I grew up in a predominantly white town; therefore I can honestly say I do not believe I was fully aware of the true intensity of the issues. The part in the book that proved most striking to me was the topic of Coates’ children. He talks about how they still suffer from the same struggles, such as verbal abuse and violence, that previous generations have. Coates says, “… for all our differing worlds, at your age my feeling was exactly the same” (Coates 21), which is interesting because over the years there have been many reforms to work to improve these issues. Coates even mentions that in his childhood there was no black president, but now there is and still fears are the same. I have analyzed and used this passage many times this semester because to me personally it is very disheartening that despite the efforts to solve these issues, they are still so strongly present in society today. What more could we be doing to make it so that these issues are no longer such a huge part of society. Is it just a matter of time? I personally believe that these issues have improved simply based off of the history I have learned and the present conditions of this country. There is no longer segregation and there are many stories of successful people who started off in adverse conditions. Ben Carson is an extremely successful neurosurgeon and also ran for president of the United States for 2016. He grew up very poor, but worked through out his whole life to overcome the hardship he faced as a child. Now he is the head of the neuroscience department at John Hopkins University. When Coates talked about how even in this generation there are the same fears in a way it confused me. I understand that there are most definitely hardships in terms of race and society today, but there are also significant changes that are being made in order to help the situation. I think that all parents believe that their children are facing the same issues they were. The only things that changed are the different situations of each generation. The same feelings are the root of the struggles. Though it surprises me that Coates believes children now are still feeling the same, it also makes sense because it takes time for issues so large to be resolved.
Society today is currently facing many issues. Some of these issues include economics, social acceptance, and the environment. Although the other two issues prove to be important, the environment has been a struggle humans have been battling for years. After the industrial revolutions, the technological progress people began to make was instrumental. Human society began to progress with intense speed and continues to do so to this day. However, while the progress may be beneficial to humans, it is destroying our Earth. Chemicals are constantly being release into our atmosphere creating many problems such as a hole in the Ozone layer and high amounts of CO2. This is extremely harmful to the environment and adversely impacts those, humans, animals, and plants, who live in it. In the 1950s, Rachel Carson wrote a book called Silent Spring, which highlighted the issue of DDT and other harmful affects to the environment. She states that while humans are using DDT to benefit themselves, it is having extreme affects on the environment. If one species were to go extinct due to a chemical such as DDT, not only does it impact that species, but it also impacts those around it who are dependent upon it. Species depend on each other to survive and with humans imposing on nature in ways such as using insecticides, we are causing a detrimental impact on our earth. Carson states, “the most alarming of all man’s assaults upon the environment is the contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials” (Carson 6). Despite the fact that this book was written in the 1950s, specifically about DDT, which is no longer used in America, the issues Carson addresses can be applied to the issues today. One of the main purposes of Carson’s book is to make people more aware of the effects of the chemical they are using. “Much of the necessary knowledge is now available,” but people are not using what they know to find solutions; instead, people are simply ignoring the problem (Carson 11). Unfortunately for us humans, our selfish acts will literally be the death of us. Because of the waste we produce, the forests we destroy and the seas we pollute, our Earth is deteriorating, at much faster rates as time goes on. It is important to take notice of the harmful affects what we are doing has on our environment in order to preserve the planet we have. Humans live in a delusion they are superior to nature, when in reality we are a part of it.
In the book Between the World and Me by Ta-Neshisi Coates, he discusses at one point that it makes him sad that his children feel the same pain and sorrows he feels. These pains and sorrows have to do with racisms. Because racism is still a current issue in the United States, people of all ages feel the adverse affect, which can result in fears as large as fear for their life. One reason that particularly struck me about this passage and Coates’ disappointment in learning his children feel the same as he did, is the fact that every parent wants their child to grow up in a better environment than they did. Parents always want what is best for their children and strive to do what they can to ensure the success of their kids. I know in my own personal experience, my parents always did what they could to assist me in my life in order to ensure my success. They always encouraged me to do well in school and to strive to be what I want to be. They also encouraged me to independent. I always found this very important. Don’t let people define who you are. Don’t let it affect how you live your life. But the fact that Coates sees his children dealing with the same problems he had to deal with growing up and even in the present day must be difficult to cope with. As a parent, it would be very concerning to watch a child have to grow up with an issue as large as racism burdening them as they face the every day challenges of simply growing up. This added burden seems to have an affect on the way the children mature. Because Coates acknowledges this in his book (page 21), it is clear that despite changes that have been made recently in attempt to reduce the amount of racism, not much as much progress has been made. On another note, Coates’ quote “but race is the child of racism, not the father” also struck me (7). It has the same parent child theme in it. The way I interpreted this quote was that race is innocent, as a child; therefore it has not be affected, or, more severely, corrupted by life like a grown father has. Race is what is being attacked for no good reason. This part of the reading regarding the current status of racism particularly struck me and the conversation in class reiterating the importance of it made it clear that this is an important issue, not only for adults, but children as well.