On Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me

Thinking Through History

This is a short book with a powerfully long crescendo. For those of you wondering about the time commitment, I basically read it in 48 hours (with Star Wars: The Force Awakens as a major “interruption”). What follows are all of my reflections and favorite passages (five each) after a first reading.

Reflections

1. Cosmopolitanism – I’m mildly surprised that Coates chose *cosmopolitanism* as the deep structuring ideal for himself and his son. It’s a keyword in the text.

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Mericans

Analysis of Mericans

“Mericans’ is a short story by Sandra Cisneros. The authors choice of title “Mericans” tells that the characters are from both countries, Mexico and America. The story is most likely written from the view of a young girl and it is narrated by a young girl named  Micaela or Michelle who talks about a time in her life, when she is caught between two worlds Mexico and America. The author uses many details to visualize the culture of the characters and gives a mental picture where it took place. The use of Spanish words in the story such as, La Virgen de Guadalupe and la ofrenda give readers an idea that the characters have different cultures. The word “barbarian” that the grandmother uses to describe the birthplace of the children, also points out cultural differences. There were also two main settings in this story that the author used to contrast; the dark, dingy and smelly expresses the church, and  the bright, busy plaza where the boys were playing.

The grandchildren, “born in that barbaric country with its barbarian ways” (Roberts & Zweig, p.94), as the grandmother refers to the United States, have double names that reflect their double identities. On the American side, they are Michelle, Junior, and Keeks; on the other side, with their abuela (grandmother), they are called by their Mexican names, Micaela, Enrique, and Alfredito. The “awful grandmother” ,while she clings to her cultural heritage,  doesn’t want to accept the American culture of the children. She seems to holding fast to her old countries beliefs, and praying for those in her family who weren’t, just like her grandchildren who were “born in a ‘barbaric’ country”. The children, in the story, may look like Native Americans or Mexicans, but their main language is English. They use terms of American culture with the imagining characters, “Flash Gordon” and “Ming the Merciless” (Roberts & Zweig, p.94).

The children in the story embrace more of the American culture than a native culture with their games and also the language they prefer to speak. Michelle’s  brothers seem to be content playing and carrying on without the bother of what the awful grandmother is doing, and they have no references to their native culture. But Michelle tends to struggle understanding her grandmothers cultural heritage, and it seems to take her quite a bit of effort doing it. She and her brothers are stuck in the middle of the two worlds. Outside the church, waiting for their awful grandmother, they aren’t allowed to walk to the plaza, where there are balloons, punch balls, comic books, and other fun things. But they are also not allowed to come inside the church.

This story was quite interesting, showing the young kid’s struggle between the culture of a new country, trying to keep their beliefs and not forgetting where they come from. The grandmother’s character is a typical of those older generations who are trying in holding fast to their old countries beliefs. Though the story seems to occur around the era right after second world war took place, still at this current era such stories might exist where the younger generations stuck between a two cultural world. The characters in the stories are deeply rooted in the cultural contexts of their productions.  The story shows how it was like for little girl’s character growing up north of the US/Mexico border, surrounded by American influences while still being connected to her Mexican roots. The fact that the tourists think the children are Mexicans, but they speak in English illustrates the dual nature of Mexican/American children – caught between two cultures, searching for their identities.

4 Parenting New Year’s Resolutions, and Books for Inspiration

The Science of Mom

This time last year, I had a week-old baby, and my New Year’s resolutions were simple: Be present with my family, find gratitude in each day, and take care of myself. These goals were simple but not always easy. Still, it helped me to come back to these intentions for the year when I started to feel overwhelmed. I’m reaffirming those resolutions for the coming year, but I’m also feeling more ambitious and inspired about bringing more creativity, fun, and learning into each day with my kids.

I love books for inspiration, especially for projects with Cee. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I get too easily side-tracked or overwhelmed on Pinterest. I like to find great books and work my way through them. So for each of my resolutions, I’ve found a book or two as a jumping-off point for the year. (All of the Amazon links in this post are…

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