Sociology Department Hosts a Book Discussion on Between the World and Me

Story by Chucky Blackmore, News Editor
Photo courtesy of

On Wednesday, November 18 a discussion will take place on behalf of the Sociology Department, where participants will primarily delve into the topics of race and adversity in America.  To spark the conversation, the book Between the World and Me, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, will be used as a reference.

Dr. Michael Cushion, Assistant Professor of Sociology, will be one of the facilitators of the discussion.  

“Coates’ book gives us a glimpse into what it means to be a black person in America through the device of a letter to his son,” said Cushion.  “It goes beyond data or numbers to convey the lived experience of race in the U.S. that we don’t get through mainstream sources.”

Cushion views this event as being an important way for students to understand the trials that black people face regarding the criminal justice system and segregation in our country in general.  Though the days of the Civil Rights Movement are behind us, a great disparity still lies within our generation regarding race relations–schools, neighborhoods, and churches are just a few everyday examples.  The discussion will look into our society and to better understand how segregated we really are.  

In Between the World and Me, which was published in 2015, Coates encourages readers to wake up.  The book is set up as a letter written to his 15-year-old son, Samori, on the tragedies of race in America.  Coates’ book loosely mirrors the text The Fire Next Time by author James Baldwin, who wrote his novel in the form of letters to his nephew in 1963.  Samori’s physical and emotional safety is pursued throughout these letters, which Coates uses to reinforce the idea that the physical harm forced upon young black men today is an modern-day equivalent to enslavement, especially in regards to the criminal justice system.  

The Between the World and Me discussion will take place on Wednesday, November 18, from 1-4p.m. in the Academic Building, room 257.  The format will be an open forum-based discussion in which students, faculty, and staff are invited to attend for all or part of the event.  

As the fall semester gets busy with the pressures of projects, readings, and exams, students can be reassured that this event is one they can fully participate in without too much preparation.

“If you are worried about finding the time to read one more book, take comfort in the fact that Between the World and Me is only 152 pages,” said Cushion.  “It could be read over a weekend.  There are copies on reserve at the Grace Hauenstein library under the heading ‘Reading Group’.”

Though the Sociology Department doesn’t have any big events in store for the upcoming semester yet, they would like to hold more discussion series on contemporary issues.  Take advantage of this opportunity to engage in conversation with fellow AQ students about issues very relevant to our society–past, present, and future.  

About the Writer…

Chucky Blackmore, News EditorChucky Blackmore is a senior studying English and Education, with a minor in ESL. Other than being The Saint’s News Editor, Chucky is also a Resident Assistant in Hruby Hall and plays lead guitar in Grand Rapids based band, Velcrofibs.

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