Coates goes to college at Howard where he finds a diverse amount of black students, that are all connected due to there skin color and thus understands why the “price of error” is higher for Black folks. This is the first time, Coates feels that there is representation of black people, rather than a society dominated by whites. Education in society primarily focuses on the history of white people and history of Black people is never recognized. Being at a college, with diversity and where being black is not considered an outsider and he does not have to be in fear for his life.
Howard University is where his family attended as well, the history behind it, and the people is why it was called the “black diaspora”. At Howard University, he meets a man named Prince Jones who is just like him. He is a young man, who comes from a richer family than Coates. Coates sees Prince Jones as the representation of the ideal black body. One day, Coates picks up the school newspaper and sees that Prince Jones is shot by a police officer and says to himself, “I knew that Prince was not killed by a single officer so much as he was murdered by his country and all the fears that have marked it from birth (78).
” This allows Coates to come to the realization that Prince Jones is not killed by a single racist individual, rather the racist institutions in this white society, that normalize racism. Prince Jones is mistaken for a person that did not match up with Coates’s characteristics, however this did not matter. The cop sees the color of his skin and Jones is instantly judged. Being the only witness at the scene, no one would believe him, a black man, so seen as the “bad” guy. Coates notices how easily he could have been killed just because he is a black man and therefore acknowledges the fear that black people.
The death of Prince Jones allows Coates to detect that the “price of error is higher”, for a Black man, as it does not matter the social class one belongs to, at the end of the day it always comes down to the color of one’s skin. Prince Jones was still at mercy of the cops and in that second that’s all that matters. His life was not valuable to society regardless of how good he was and his body is essentially worthless, which proved that how American Society views black folks good or bad. He comes to the understanding that no black body is safe from violence acts, and at any time the black body is and can be destroyed. Everything must be done carefully because one mistake can cost them their life.