Ta-Nehisi, who is the son of Paul Coates and Cheryl Waters is brought up in Baltimore. This was during the time of the re-known epidemic crack. During his childhood, Coates comes to see the dangers that the streets posed. He realizes that there was injustice and has several questions that are left unanswered, concerning the experience of being a black man brought up in America. The school he attends at the time also makes him have more questions as they were being taught to be compliant indirectly through a set of harsh rules. He goes to Howard for his university education. He meets several people including the Prince, a classmate who is killed unlawfully and also his partner Kenyatta, with whom he has a son at the age of 24. Coates is a writer, and he continues to seek success in his field while trying to answer the questions he had from his childhood. The story of Coates and the thoughts he has about the racism in America make most of the book.
He is relentless in seeking out truth and voicing his opinion in the letter. As a father, he is protective of his children, which is displayed when he confronts the woman who pushes Samori. He tries to prepare his son for the world by providing some important teachings and experiences, for example, taking him to visit the civil war ground. He believes that his son should be prepared for the world and is also aware that he might not be able to protect him forever. Coates is often fearful, and this fear has been instilled in him from childhood by society and his father, who taught him how to survive. He is insistent that “the dream” is one of the core pillars supporting racism in the US.