Author Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about his childhood growing up in the crack-riddled era of the mid 1980's through early 1990's in the streets of Baltimore in his new book, The Beautiful Struggle: a father, twos sons and an unlikely road to manhood.
This an excellent memoir showing not just of a young man trying to stay on the right path in a tough inner-city environment but also shows a great transition from the author's father's generation of the Black pride and Black Panther movement of the 1970's to the collapse of inner-city neighborhoods caused by the crack epidemic as seen by the author's generation of the 1980's.
The author covers perfectly of how young men from the inner-city are bred to deal with their environment. I think the author rather pointy covers how young men are forced to gauge themselves and measure their actions and calculate how much emotion they could show because their environment was testing their manhood on a daily basis. One line that struck from the book is, "...even our smiles were measured." The author writes that in many neighborhoods the only possession young men felt they owned was respect. And respect in the crack epidemic era meant that it was tested daily and by taking that away was to take the only piece of humanity that justified a violent world which was hard to comprehend. As anyone knows or remembers sometimes that fight or just the basic demand for respect as a human being resulted in what appeared to be senseless acts of violence over who claimed a corner, tennis shoes or even a jacket.
Interestingly enough, Coates talked about "the mask" that young black men have to put on, especially from inner-city communities to deal with all the struggles and pitfalls that lay before them. This was interesting because a century before, W.E.B. Dubois also talked about"The Mask" black people had to wear in post-reconstruction America and to see that young black men still have to wear "the mask" albeit a much different one is still tragic.
The author also covers the rise of Hip Hop and it's golden era of the late 1980's. Without a doubt Hip Hop had a very profound affect on inner-cities across the country and the author covers how Hip Hop was very much of a positive for him and many others who began writing, emceeing and producing music. Coates writes about how Hip Hop had a noticeable affect on inner-city culture as it changed from party music to music of consciousness which heralded back the messages of his father's generation which had almost became lost because of how the crack epidemic completely took over the psyche of the inner-city.
Ultimately, the book is about a father, flawed and visionary at the same time, trying to raise his seven kids in a tough environment while trying to impart knowledge onto them of how to survive and be a freely independent conscious person in the world.
To find about about, The Beautiful Struggle, click here.