Synopses & Reviews
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 New York Times on Sunday July 7: "Death in Black and White" (It was updated within a day to acknowledge the killing of police officers in Dallas). The response has been overwhelming. Beyonce and Isabel Wilkerson tweeted it, JJ Abrams, among many other prominent people, wrote him a long fan letter. The NYT closed the comments section after 2,500 responses, and Dyson has been on NPR, BBC, and CNN non-stop since then.
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 responds to that question. 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 "At birth you are given a pair of binoculars that see black life from a distance, never with the texture of intimacy. Those binoculars are privilege; they are status, regardless of your class. In fact 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."
Short, emotional, literary, powerful, this is the book that ALL Americans who care about the current and long burning crisis in race relations need to read.
"Michael Eric Dyson is alive to the fierce urgency of now and yet he's full of felicitous contradictions: an intellectual who won't talk down to anyone; a man of God who eschews piousness; a truth-teller who is not afraid of doubt or nuance; a fighter whose arguments, though always to the point, are never ad hominem. We can and should be thankful we have a writer like Michael Eric Dyson is our midst." Dave Eggers, from the preface of Can You Hear Me Now?
"Here’s a sermon that’s as fierce as it is lucid. It shook me up, but in a good way. This is how it works if you’re black in America, this is what happens, and this is how it feels. If you’re black, you’ll feel a spark of recognition in every paragraph. If you’re white, Dyson tells you what you need to know — what this white man needed to know, at least. This is a major achievement. I read it and said amen." Stephen King
"Elegantly written, Tears We Cannot Stop is powerful in several areas: moving personal recollections; profound cultural analysis; and guidance for moral redemption. A work to relish." Toni Morrison
"A hard-hitting sermon on the racial divide... The readership Dyson addresses may not fully be convinced, but it can hardly remain unmoved." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Michael Eric Dyson is one of America’s premier public intellectuals. He occupies the distinguished position of University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University, is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, and is a contributing editor of The New Republic and ESPN’s The Undefeated. Ebony magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential African Americans and one of the 150 most powerful blacks in the nation.