Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates: What We Give Our Children

Reading Between the World and Me, a compassionate and moving letter that Coates has written to his son, I fall in love again with the power and magic of words to make sense of our lives.  This is how and why I came to poetry. I recognized the transformative energy behind poetry, what is makes possible, and I fully endorses Coates sensibilities when he says, “Poetry was not simply the transcription of notions —beautiful writing rarely is…” It is though, if you do it well and with reverence, a glaring light which I have gifted my children since their births, a poem each birthday, and other poems written to remind them of the truth.


For Shola, my oldest, being awed by her natural beauty that was way deeper than skin, I penned, “you are everything primordial, sweet, the first and the last…” so she would know who she is at all times despite what others, who had long forgotten the truth, might try to tell her she was not.

I was, like Coates, being mindful and careful knowing that “Poetry aims for an economy of truth –loose and useless words must be discarded…”


When my son Jawara was born, the times were not very different for Black men than they are now…There was Walter Rodney and countless others before and after, and I knew that his life mattered.  In fact, I knew he was essential, and I was and still am prepared to do whatever it takes to keep him safe so I gifted him the poem, “I will not let them take you/you will not be one of their victims…” and this today still has to be our stance.  We will not let any of us fall prey anymore.  No more.  It is not only that we Matter.  We are Essential.  We are the truths of the poem, distillated.

“Poetry was the processing of my thoughts until the slag of justification fell away and I was left with the cold steel truths of life…” says Ta-Nehisi Coates, as he analyzes his process, his development as a writer and all those people and ideas who influenced him.

As a mother, my cold steel truths has always been to care for, protect, educate and raise three exceptional human beings to gift the world, to contribute, to spread love and wisdom and truth. So when my third and last child, affectionately known as my wash-belly child was born, I wrote and named her the crowning glory,Teju.

DSC03003 - Version 2We must be kind and loving and generous with our children, but we can and must not accept laziness, disregard, excuses, foul language, sloven behavior and mindless living from them.

Do not allow them to wallow in blame and pointing the finger. Help and guide them to create a plan, a goal, give them community, invest them with self-knowledge, with the importance of contributing to improve not only their individual life, but life all around them.

Give and show them the world, so they can stretch and expand.

Let’s Love Our Children and Insist on their Safety and Well Being.

We are powerful.

We are the survivors of the Middle Passage.

We did not come so far to fold in Now.

We are the truth of Poetry than cannot be suppressed nor denied.

We are Everlasting Poetic Truth.

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