Columnist Rich Lowry’s critical review of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me” (The Advocate, Sunday, July 26, 6B) is harsh and hasty. Coates’ “view of America” is neither “toxic,” nor “silly,” nor “morally blinkered.” Coates, in the current issue of The Atlantic (July/August 2015, pages 85-86), contends that post-racial society is still a distant dream. This assertion is not a subjective diatribe. If you are not empathetic and conscientious, you may never understand what it means to be a demonized person in a racism-DNA-saturated society.

In reference to the ugly incident (pages 93-94) when a white woman pushed Coates’ 5-year-old son out of a crowded elevator in a movie theater and said, “Come on,” Lowry manifests a shocking — shall I say callous? — moral dissonance. What has lately happened in Lafayette and Chattanooga, Tennessee, does not seem to matter to him. I quote a few words from Coates’ book on the same page:

“There was the reaction of any parent when a stranger lays a hand on the body of his or her child. And there was my own insecurity in my ability to protect your black body. And more: There was my sense that this woman was pulling rank. … I was only aware that someone had invoked their right over the body of my son. … I came home shook” (page 94).

I did not find any “haze of lyricism” in this book, which Toni Morrison finds “visceral, eloquent and beautifully redemptive. And its examination of the hazards and hopes of black male life is as profound as it is revelatory” (endorsement on the back cover).


dean emeritus, LSU School of Social Work

Baton Rouge