Between the World and Me

Main Ideas

Symbols

Main Ideas Symbols

The Yard

The Yard at Howard University—the popular gathering place at the center of campus—represents the diversity of the black race. While looking out over the Yard, Coates calls Howard “the black diaspora.” He sees black people from all over the world. They study different things, look exotic, and all have different styles. He never met such a diverse pool of people in the relatively homogenous ghettos of Baltimore. When Coates references the Yard, he is referencing not just memories of that specific meeting place, but also the diverse group of people gathered there and the beautiful complexity of his race.

Paris

To Coates, Paris represents security over one’s body. When he travels to Paris for the first time, he realizes that he is free from the constant fear of being assaulted that he experiences daily in America. Unlike white Americans, the French have never systematically enslaved Africans. He isn’t looked upon with any prejudice or suspicion resulting from his race, which is something he has never experienced. Coates takes Samori to Paris because he wants him to experience life without that fear and to enjoy security in a new way.