Re-Presenting Black Masculinities in Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me

Author/Creator ORCID



Type of Work


Arts and Humanities



Citation of Original Publication


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States


Ta-Nehisi Coates’s memoir and letter to his son Between the World and Me (2015)—published shortly after the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement—provides a rich and diverse representation of African American male life which is closely connected with contemporary United States society. This study explores how Coates represents and explains black manhood as well as how he defines his own identity as being excluded from United States society, yet as being central to the nation. Coates’s definition of masculinity is analyzed by focusing on his representations of boyhood and fatherhood. By analyzing Coates’s projection of his own role as a man and as a father as well as his complex and multifaceted representations of black manhood, I demonstrate how Coates promotes a caring masculinity and, most importantly, how he presents resistance to hegemonic notions of masculinity. Thus, the goal of this study is to examine the ways in which Coates asserts models for progressive masculinities through his portrayals of boyhood and fatherhood. Coates’s depiction of his adolescence and of black youth in the streets of Baltimore, and his descriptions of fatherhood, particularly of his own role as a father and the depiction of his parents, are key in assessing Coates’s rendering of a caring masculinity.