I’ve been a fan of TNC for years now. His writing held the highest priority for me among all non-fiction writers, so that whenever I saw a link to something of his I hadn’t read yet, I dropped everything else I was doing to eagerly seize it and drink it down.
But this book exceeded even my high expectations.
I knew it was a letter to his son, that it would address race and racism in America, and reflections on his own experiences. I’ve read many of his essays that were along the same lines, so I wasn’t sure if it would have anything new to me.
Here’s what I didn’t expect after listening to it twice in a row: to find it a soothing experience. Not because TNC offers hope or feasible solutions for America’s systemic and murderous racism; but because I realized I find it soothing to hear such an intelligent and eloquent writer speaking honestly about the problem, about its enormity and apparent insurmountability.
The honesty is so rare and so welcome, and that alone gives me hope. Not that this one book or even everything TNC has written and is yet to write will “solve racism,” but I take some solace in that his voice is being recognized, appreciated, awarded. I mean, he won a goddamn Genius MacArthur award (with a $625,000 prize). So much is wrong in our society, but at least this much is right. At least there’s this much hope for us.