An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates; Commentary Magazine

“On August 11, 1985, at the age of 20, I boarded an Air Jamaica aircraft bound for Atlanta,” writes Jason D. Hill in Commentary magazine, “…[c]lutching the hand of my 72-year-old grandmother a little nervously…”

Dr. Hill uses his arrival in the United States from Jamaica to set the tone for a deep dive into what he, a black immigrant, achieved in this country, why he loves it, and why Ta-Nehisi Coates’s book, Between the World and Me, fails to represent the black experience, mis-characterizes the American Dream, and could mislead young black men. Along the way, he gives us all a lesson in history and political philosophy.

That experience of immigrating to the U.S. as a young man resonates for me. On March 23, 1921, at the age of 23, my father arrived in New York Harbor, alone, aboard the USS Finland after making his way from the only world he had known, a tiny Jewish village in what is now Belarus that had been torn apart by war and pogroms.

Because my father died when I was 11, I never got to ask him the questions that burn within me about what that experience felt like. So perhaps I’m a bit obsessed by the immigrant experience. Maybe that’s why I felt an instant bond with Dr. Hill as I read about his arrival in Atlanta.

Which got me wondering about our societal confusions surrounding skin tone, ethnicity and culture. I wondered whether maybe Dr. Hill and I have more in common than either of us does with Te-Nehisi Coates, — MHP

Read Dr. Hill’s article here: An Open Letter to Ta-Nehisi Coates – Commentary Magazine



  1. I’ve read Coates’ book: it’s a textbook “how to create anxiety and depression in your child.” It’s an unhappy combination of moral grandstanding and really lousy parenting.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s