Between the World and Me

2016-17 Common Reading Selection

Cover Art: Between the World and Me


Winner of the National Book Award for non-fiction, Between the World and Me has been widely celebrated as one of the best books of 2015 and its author, Ta-Nehisi Coates, has been called "the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States."





Reading Resources

About the Book

UO Common Reading Reflection Guide to Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates and the Class of 2020, IntroDUCKtion video with reading tips

New York Times book review by Michelle Alexander

Interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!

Interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates on NPR's Fresh Air

Ta-Nehisi Coates' National Book Award acceptance speech

Literary Works Referenced by Coates

A Letter to My Nephew by James Baldwin (1962) in The Progressive magazine

Between the World and Me, poem by Richard Wright

Malcolm, poem by Sonia Sanchez quoted at the beginning of part I

Ka 'Ba, poem by Imamu Amiri Baraka quoted at beginning of part II

On Being White...And Other Lies, essay by James Baldwin (1984) in Essence quoted at beginning of part III


The Case for Reparations: cover story by Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic

Sonia Sotomayor's Devastating Ta-Nehisi Coates-citing Supeme Court Dissent in the Court's ruling on Utah v. Strieff (June 20, 2016)

272 Slaves Were Sold to Save Georgetown. What Does It Owe Their Descendants? by Rachel L. Swarns for The New York Times

Black History: Activism on Campus: timeline by Stefan M. Bradley, New York Times

Racism, History, and Lies: Some Doctrines of Racial Supremacy as Classically Taught in Euro/American Institutions, Textbooks, and Media by Max Dashu, Suppressed History Archives

Martin Luther King Jr. Offers Insight into 'Justice for All' by Rhonda V. Magee, University of San Francisco

Black at Oregon

Grievances and Demands of Black Students on the University of Oregon: Memo from the Black Student Union memo to the UO president in 1968

UO Taking Action on African-American Student Issues: letter from UO president Michael H. Schill and vice president for equity and inclusion Yvette M. Alex-Assensoh in response to the demands of the Black Student Task Force

Report on the History of Matthew P. Deady and Frederick S. Dunn: Historians' report to UO President Michael Schill regarding possible denaming of campus buildings, 2016.

Untold Stories: Black History at the University of Oregon from Special Collections and University Archives

Looking Back in Order to Move Forward: timeline of Oregon and U.S. racial, immigration, and education history compiled by Elaine Rector (Coaching for Educational Equity)

Why Aren’t There More Black People in Oregon? A Hidden History: an Oregon Humanities Conversation with Walidah Imarisha (Portland State University) recorded at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art

A Bit of Eugene's African-American History Now Memorialized in Stone by Francesca Fontana in The Register-Guard

Mims Houses Memorial Monument Dedication speech by Lisa Johnson Ponder, May 29, 2016

Race and Identity

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, by Peggy McIntosh

On Views of Race and Inequality, Blacks and Whites are Worlds Apart: Report from the Pew Research Center

'A Conversation with my Black Son' an Op-Doc video by Geeta Gandbhir and Blair Foster for The New York Times

A Dialogue on Race and Speech at Yale: A conversation with Yale undergraduate Bria Godley and Conor Friedersdorf of the The Atlantic

The Black Girl Pushout: interview by Melinda D. Anderson (The Atlantic) with Monique W. Morris, co-founder of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute and author of The Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools

Learning How to Code-Switch: Humbling But Necessary: essay by Eric Deggins for NPR's race, ethnicity, and culture blog "Code Switch"

All Mixed Up: What Do We Call People of Multiple Backgrounds? by Leah Donnella for NPR's race, ethnicity, and culture blog "Code Switch"

An Open Letter to the Artist as a Young Woman or Man; Or, Why We Need to Talk about Race: Marilo Nuñez in Canadian Theatre Review

Further Reading

Reading list of other books recommended by Coates and interview with Coates at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

18 Books Every White Ally Should Read, compiled by Crystal Paul, Bustle

The Year of Black Memoir by Imani Perry, in Public Books

Campus Resources

Academic Supports

The Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence promotes student retention and persistence for historically underrepresented and underserved populations. Its services are available to all students, and include advising, tutoring, mentoring, and programs to support the transition to college.

Bias Reporting and Counseling Services

The Bias Education and Response Team (BERT) provides impacted parties of bias incidents opportunities to be heard and supported. It provides services to witness(es), bystander(s), targeted individual(s), offender(s), or a member(s) of the community in order to effect change around these important issues in a quick and effective manner, and to ensure a comprehensive response to bias incidents. It also works to educate and inform the community, creating awareness of ignorance and intolerance. The BERT complements and works with campus entities to connect those impacted by bias incident(s) with appropriate support and resources. It does not and will not initiate disciplinary action or impose sanctions regarding bias incidents.

The University Counseling & Testing Center provides therapy, testing, consultation, outreach, and referral services to university students. The Counseling Center is the only place where students can receive psychological services from professionals specializing in college mental health free of charge. Many of its services are confidential to students.

The Ombuds Program offers all members of the campus community a central, safe, and easy place to gain access to support and problem-solving resources. The Ombuds Program promotes a visitor-driven process that honors the guiding principles of independence, neutrality, confidentiality, and informality.

Diversity & Community

The Multicultural Center (MCC) is a hub of activism, connecting students of all races and backgrounds to encourage collaboration around diversity programming and education. The MCC sponsors educational and cultural workshops, conferences, guest speakers and artists, art displays, spoken word events, hip hop concerts, and more. It also houses a resource library of books and videos.

The office of Multicultural Education, Student Engagement, and Success runs cultural education programs that increase the awareness and understanding of the experiences of students of color. It coordinates leadership development opportunities for students of color across campus and increases the visibility of the contributions of students and communities of color through year-long events and programs such as the Weaving New Beginnings Banquet, La Raza Unida Youth Conference, Mother's Day Pow wow, Women of Color Retreat, IMPACT Graduation, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Week of Events.

The ASUO Men’s Center is a student supported center dedicated to help college men from diverse backgrounds lead healthy lives. It creates spaces and events where people of all genders and identities can work collectively towards reconstructing masculinity in a social justice oriented manner. It aims to raise awareness about the intersections of men’s health issues and social justice issues, and ways that men can play a more active role in ending oppression.

The ASUO Women’s Center advocates for the best educational and working environment for women and people of all genders at the University of Oregon by working toward societal change and the end of oppression, and by supporting personal growth. The Women’s Center provides education, advocacy and support via resources, referral, event coordination, support groups, lactation space, quarterly magazine, community outreach, cultural events co-sponsored with various organizations/departments, etc. in order to promote a safe, equitable and affirming campus climate for people of all genders.

Student Organizations

The Black Student Union (BSU) is a student organization which provides an intellectual, cultural and social environment for students as well as community members. Black Student Union strives for academic excellence and promote cultural awareness among its members. Black Student Union exists to encourage a positive image of African Americans and to support its members in achieving their educational goals. BSU also wants to let our counterparts know that the students are an intrinsic part of the Eugene community.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Asexual, Aromantic, & Ally Student Union hosts weekly meetings, plans annual events, builds community, and provides resources, support, and education to LGBTQIA+ members of the UO and Eugene communities.

Campus Units

The Division of Undergraduate Studies oversees the Common Reading program. Contact them with any questions and they will direct you to appropriate resources.

The Division of Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is a center for resources and expertise to support equity and diversity at the University. See the DEI’s resources for multicultural students for more campus resources.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Education & Support Services informs, engages, and connects the UO LGBTQIA+ community to resources related to sexual orientation and gender identity, and to other social justice and ally-building resources.

Teaching Resources

Discussion Prompts

UO Common Reading Discussion Guide to Between the World and Me

UO Clark Honors College discussion forum

Quotes and questions: discussion prompts from four Coates quotes for the City Club of Eugene's book chats

Random House Reading Guide to Between the World and Me by Rachael Hudak, Director of the Prison Education Program at New York University

A social media book discussion on Between the World and Me, University of Michigan

Curriculum Resources

UO Common Reading Teaching Guide to Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me by Sharon Kaplan, UO Common Reading Coordinator. Organized in three units, this resource offers over 20 specific teaching ideas, questions, and companion texts for exploring Coates' work.

Four Activities & Assignments for Teaching Between the World and Me from UO Composition Instructor and TEP Peer Mentor Avinnash Tiwari

Between the World and Me: African American Artists Respond to Ta-Nehisi Coates: a guide to 12 contemporary artworks on race from the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art's exhibition of the same name. Includes extension activities.

Between the World and Me Teacher's Guide by Dr. Kimberly N. Parker, instructor of English, Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in Cambridge, MA, for Penguin Random House