The most Fundamental Connection between Ta-Nehisi Coates’ and James Baldwin’s Works
The most fundamental connection that can be drawn from Ta-Nehisi Coates’ and James Baldwin’s works is that both are concerned individuals, using the literary platform to raise concerns or awareness about the incidences of inequality and discrimination faced by the African-Americans. Besides, it seems that both authors are of a common view that family love is crucial in the face of an oppressive environment such as the United States i.e. Ta-Nehisi Coates, just like James Baldwin describes the relevance of the togetherness of the Black community as a foundation for their dreams and hopes (Coates 82).
Similarly, James Baldwin appears interested in expressing the relevance of family love and care, particularly, in a society he considers harsh to his community, the African-Americans. For instance, he emphasizes that his intention in writing the letter or informing his nephew about the struggles their community has experienced is purely based on love (Baldwin 1254). He goes further and offers a brief, yet detailed description of the manner in, which he cared for his nephew, when he was still an infant i.e. he narrates how he used to kiss him, carry and even watch over him as a child (Baldwin 1254). Through his love, he has managed to see and understand his nephew from a different or unique perspective. One could posit that James Baldwin intention in connection with the idea of family love is based on the desire to express the relevance or the significance of family love as a way of dealing with negative external forces, particularly, oppressive acts directed towards a specific community. It seems that the American society, according to James Baldwin, has become massively hostile for the Black community so much that one of the ways they could relieve the pressure associated with above form of oppression is through a stronger family association or relationship.
Also, both authors in their letters focus on the historical origin or the history of slavery and oppression that is currently experienced by African-Americans. For example, James Baldwin briefly informs his nephew of how the Black man entered the United States, mentioning how certain stakeholders such as Franklin Frazier described the United States i.e. “cities of destruction” (Baldwin 1254). Besides, he indicates the manner in, which their grandmother managed to handle the oppressive, as well as, the discriminatory acts of the White man against the Black community. From this perspective, scholars can identify the fact that the current socio-political challenges faced by African-Americans are issues that have been experienced or faced over time without the provision of the development of a proper solution. In this regard, it seems that his intention to ensure that his nephew is aware and prepared to face the above issues just like any other African-American.
In a similar approach, Ta-Nehisi Coates in his letter informs his son about the history of the destruction of the black body as he laments about the death of Prince Jones, who was shot by a law enforcement officer. In his perspective, it seems that the current brutality faced by the African-American is not only rooted or associated with the slavery but also the consequences of the American Civil War (Coates 80).
Regarding their approach or style of writing, it is apparent that both authors apply the concept of letter writing or epistolary format. That is, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes a letter to his son, seemingly, making an attempt to inform him of the discrimination, inequality and other socio-political issues faced by the black community across the United States, while James Baldwin appears to be addressing the same issues in a letter directed to his 15-year old nephew, where he mentions various fundamental political and socio-economic challenges faced by Black or African-Americans people across the United States. One of the major ideas he raises in his letter is the high level of oppression and discrimination faced by the Black community across the United States. In his perspective, black people are highly vulnerable to different forms of oppression in the country and there is need to raise concern about such issues. For example, in the introductory section of his work, he acknowledges or notes the fact that his nephew, just like any other black man is vulnerable within his country (Baldwin 1252).
Contrary to James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates incorporates in his letter a brief biography concerning his academic life, including the manner in, which he perspectives about the American society was changed the Mecca or religion. For example, he asserts that he was admitted at the Howard University, although, his perspectives and philosophical view of the American society was massively influenced by the Mecca (Coates 40).
While James Baldwin’s perspective or view towards the problems faced by the Black community appears to have been mainly drawn from his experience in the United States, it seems that Ta-Nehisi Coates draws his experience and understanding of the issues his community faces from a broad platform. For example, he even narrates the magnitude of the loneliness he experienced, while visiting Paris, France, where his fears become worse as learns that the Black man does not only face prejudice in the United States alone but also in other developed economies in the European Union (Coates 124). One could also argue that the intention or the overall message of both authors is driven by the desire to caution and inform their target audience i.e. the son and the nephew concerning the crucial socio-political problems experienced by individuals from their ethnic groups, including the specific approaches that could be utilized to handle such scenarios.
In summation, the significant connection between James Baldwin’s and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ work mentioned above is based on the fact that both authors are driven by a desire to explicitly describe the problems faced by the black community in the United States. It is quite interesting that in the organization of both their works, both authors target their teenage relatives i.e. nephew and son respectively. Perhaps this could be based on the idea that both authors are aware of the fact that the teenage boys are the foundation of the future generation, hence, there is need to ensure that they are properly prepared about the realities of the social framework within the United States.