By Cathy Garvey, Citizenship Teacher Catholic Charities of Onondaga County, Northside CYO

The 2021 Syracuse Citywide Book Club includes selections that reflect quality of life themes of diversity and infrastructure for healthy urban cities. The City welcomes group involvement in this year’s book club by engaging with community partners who help make civic dialogue and program delivery possible. To learn about how to read along or become a partner, contact Emma Spector at Follow along on the Syracuse Citywide Book Club page at We welcome commentary from residents, such as below, and can share posts here in our blog.

I first read this Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates in 2016 as part of a book group who wanted to explore the issue of racism in America.  It was the first book I read on the subject and opened my eyes to the injustices, especially systemic injustices that are all around us. I started to see myself as ‘privileged,’ for the sole reason that I am a white person.   I felt guilty that I was not doing my part to ensure that achieving the ‘American Dream’ was for everyone.  The author’s stories about growing up made me see how different a world I grew up in.  A quote from the book, “If the streets shackled my right leg, the schools shackled my left,” stays with me, perhaps because I was a teacher in city schools.  With everything else being equal, a black person’s path in life takes a different turn than a white person, simply because of the color of skin.

How agonizing it would be not to be able to tell your child that everything will be ok. However, the author still believes that there is hope and that the American people can face the injustices that still exist.

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