1. "Have you ever taken a hard look at those pictures from the sit-ins in the ’60s, a hard, serious look? Have you ever looked at the faces? The faces are neither angry, nor sad, nor joyous. They betray almost no emotion. They look out past their tormentors, past us, and focus on something way beyond anything known to me. I think they are fastened to their god, a god whom I cannot know and in whom I do not believe." Here, we see a sharp contrast from traditional African American literary traditions that rely heavily on religious imagery and references. Assuming the majority of the intended readership are religious, does the inclusion of Coates' atheism take away from his message?
2. Coates seems to believe that white people are, as Baldwin wrote, "still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it (8). Do you think that Coates' arguement that racism invented race is the first step in beginning to understand this misunderstood history?
3. Coates chose the name Samori for his son inspired by Samori Touré, the Guinean Muslim cleric who fought French colonizers in the 19th century. What does this reflection have to say about slavery and the extent to which the "history of persecution is bound up in every moment of black people’s lives, including the joyous occasion of birth"?
4. While Coates writes the letter to his son, the intended audience is, perhaps, much more complex. How does the quotation, “But you are a black boy, and you must be responsible for your body in a way that other boys cannot know.” complicate this idea?