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As the country grapples with race with anguish and anger at a level not seen since the 60s, one of America’s leading black voices speaks out honestly and provocatively to white America.
In the wake of yet another set of police killings of black men, Michael Eric Dyson wrote a tell-it-straight, no holds barred piece for the NYT this past July 7: “Death in Black and White.” Comments were closed after they hit 2500, and Beyoncé and Isabel Wilkerson tweeted it. Dyson has been in the media non-stop since.
Fifty years ago, Malcolm X told a white woman who asked what she could do for the cause, “Nothing.” Dyson believes he was wrong. In Tears We Cannot Stop, he argues that if we are to make real racial progress, we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted. As Dyson writes, “The greatest privilege that exists is for white folk to get stopped by a cop and not end up dead… The problem is you do not want to know anything different from what you think you know… You think we have been handed everything because we fought your selfish insistence that the world, all of it—all its resources, all its riches, all its bounty, all its grace—should be yours first and foremost, and if there’s anything left, why then we can have some, but only if we ask politely and behave gratefully.”
In the tradition of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, short, emotional, literary, powerful, this is the book that ALL Americans who care about the current and long-burning crisis in race relations will want to read.