Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

Postcard 03/29

TJ von Oehsen's picture

In Ta Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, Coates introduces the idea of race as the child of racism, not the father. This reorientation that he begins this letter to his son with reminded me a lot of my discussion on race that I had with my customs team earlier this year. Within this discussion, the idea of pride was one that my first year hall and I began to focus on. Does having pride in one’s race, ethnicity, gender, or anything else fuel the discrimination that is evoked upon that part of one’s identity? Coates’ point here, I believe, is not attempting to discourage anyone from taking pride in their identity and/or heritage. Considering the entirety of this book is written to his son regarding what kind of world he and his son will be living in because of their race, it seems naïve to say that he is advocating for the ignorance of it. Instead, I believe that he is trying to say that it is in the othering process that white people, in their position of power, have forced upon others through the classification of them through racial lines. It is one thing to take pride in one’s own identity; it is another for that identity to be thrust upon you by another who sees you as less for that.


alesnick's picture

Important inquiry!  Pride that depends on othering and on hierarchy seems the problem, and seems to be integral to the meaning of the term to some.