One of my pastimes is figuring out how people became who they are. I sometimes idly wonder about an average person I might meet–their parents, their home life, whether they were hugged, and loved, berated or made to feel ashamed. I wonder if they read a lot, and were curious about the world, heard parents discuss money woes, or ideas. Or money woes and ideas. I wondered that about Ta-Nehisi Coates, because he is an interesting thinker, and not the kind that simply springs from any family in Any City, USA. So, when I read ‘The Beautiful Struggle’ I was unsurprised by his upbringing and his history, and his family’s history. I recommend this book, not just for those who are similarly curious about how people become who they are, but because his story and his father’s story are like many Black American stories, but also like far too few Black American stories–about those who did extraordinary things, and became extraordinary people, even while in the struggle to simply to survive while Black in America. For some of us, just the survival part is extraordinary enough.