March 4th 2019
Jack MacFarland came into Rose’s life at the right time, especially with all the stuff that Rose was dealing with at the time. Rose liked how hard and how invested Jack was into his work. MacFarland was important to Rose’s success because he made Rose more invested into his school work and got him into college. Coates did not learn as much from the classroom as Rose did. Most of the knowledge Coates received was from outside the classroom and in the books he read. If it wasn’t for MacFarland, Rose would have never gone to college because he had not even thought of the idea of higher education. Coates had similar figures in his life when he read books about powerful black figures in the community. Malcolm X was a huge role model to him in his life because he admired how real Malcolm X was with society. Rose and Coates received different mentorships in life but ended up at the same end goal, which was being successful. The mentorship that Rose received was mainly from his teacher MacFarland, learning the ways to get your work done and enjoy the work you do. For Coates the mentorship that he received was from multiple people but mainly from the books he read and to be more specific from most of the books he read about Malcolm X.
Our social identities shape our personal identities, our minds, our relationships, our lives, our life paths, our prospects, our sense of America and the American Dream in many ways. The reason why these identities shape our lives is because, as Kwame Anthony Appiah explains, society cannot function without categorizing everything. Therefore, the way you present yourself to the world helps decides your life path. For example, when Rose was going to school, he used to goof around and not take school seriously, never thinking about a higher education after he graduated high school. Until one day, he decided to change his life around and take school seriously by taking pride in the work he did. The day Rose decided to step it up in the classroom and change the way he was perceived as a person to society was a turning point that lead Rose to a successful life. Coates would say that Rose could be perceived that way because he is white and won’t have to really face the challenges black people face.
Being black in America can be overwhelming because of the amount of danger you have to worry about. When Coates explains the fear of his life at the 7-11 it was easy for me to understand. The boy in the ski jacket at the 7-11 wanted to state the power he had by pulling out the gun and showing how easily he could have taken Coates life. The reason the boy pulls the gun is because he too fears life just as much as Coates does, but his way of expressing this and feeling secure was by pulling out that gun and showing his power. Coates explains how he was so shocked from what happen that he didn’t tell anyone what happen and just try to process what happened to him all that day. The differences that Coates describes between the experiences of the little white boys and his owns is that they live in a different type of environment, where in their world the only worry they have is not getting poison oak on them. Coates must worry about the destruction of his body that other can inflict on him. When Coates says, “Comparing these dispatches with the facts of my country was a galaxy and this galaxy stretched from the pandemonium of west Baltimore to the happy hunting grounds of Mr. Belvedere. I was obsessed over the distance between that other sector of space and my own” (20). Coates calls this the American Galaxy because how different his life is from other people around the country; preferably white people. Rose is a great example of this because he grew up in a similar environment as Coates but never faced the same problems as Coates. Rose even explains how, “There were gang members who sauntered up from Hoover Avenue, three blocks to the east and occasionally I would get shoved around, but they had little interest in me either as member or victim. I was a skinny, bespectacled kid and had neither the coloring nor the style of dress or carriage that mark me as a rival” (21).
Rose use to read a lot of sci-fi books when he was younger, then he stopped for a while because he had become a mediocre student. If it wasn’t for his teacher MacFarland, Rose would have never reconnected his passion for books. One thing that Coates and Rose shared was the passion they felt for the books they read. Coates use to always read books and the main reason why was because whenever he looked for an answer to a question, he didn’t understand he would ask his parent for the answer. They would always refer him to a book to find the answer his self. Another influence on his reading career was his uncle he would always give him interesting books to read because he knew how much Coates was interested into reading. For Coates writing skill I believed they came from his grandmother because whenever Coates would get in trouble in school, she would have he sit down and write about why he felt the need to get in trouble. She did this to Coates not to discipline him but to challenge his feelings and how he can express then in writing. For Rose his writing skill became from his teacher MacFarland. Since he admired his teacher so much, he took an interest in what he taught. Which was the being to Rose writing career.
Coates, Ta- Nashesi. Excerpt from Between the World and Me. Spigel & Grau, 2015.
Rose, Michael, “I Just Wanna Be Average.” In Lives on The Boundary. Mike Rose & Penguin, 1989