Friday, August 4, 2017

Book Review: Tears We Cannot Stop

TITLE: Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America
AUTHOR: Michael Eric Dyson
PUBLISHED: January 17th, 2017
CATEGORY: Non-Fiction
GENRE: Essay, I guess.../Social Commentary
PREMISE: Michael Eric Dyson talks to white Americans about things like the racial divide, how racism has persisted all these years, and what we can do to try and change things.
MY REVIEW: In a perfect world, every white person would read this, actually listen to what Dyson is telling them, and change things. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world. I have a sad feeling the people who need hear this stuff, will never read it. Or if they do read it, will go on about how this is racist towards white people (see, reactions on Goodreads to The Hate U Give and pretty much any book calling white people out our crap) and will ignore all the important advice Dyson gives at the end.
So why am I, a white woman, reading this you ask? To educate myself. There's also a great passage in the book from Dyson that kind of sums up why I read books like this, despite how much it criticizes my race:
"What I ask of my white students and what I ask of you, my dear friends, is to try, the best you can, to surrender your ignorance, to reject the willful denial of history, and to live fully in our complicated present with all of the discomfort it brings."
I really don't think that's too much to ask. Can it get uncomfortable at times, when you realize friends/family/even yourself sometimes do the things this book (and other books talking about race) points out? Yes. But sometimes life is uncomfortable. Especially when you go about trying to improve yourself. If you want a book that holds your hand while talking about racial issues, I'm sorry this book will not be it. It's very blunt and delivers several hard truths that need to be heard. I can pretty much guarantee it'll make you uncomfortable at some point. But if you are willing, it can definitely be worth it.
One thing I really appreciate is that he includes a whole chapter at the end that goes "okay, you've realized now that things are bad. Here's what to do to improve". It not only gave advice about how to deal with racism when you hear it, but also gave a whole list of books to educate yourself on. I loved this, because there are lots of times when I learn about issues and go "well okay, that's definitely a thing. How can I deal with it when it comes up?" and no one tells me. Sorry, but sometimes we privileged folks do need a bit of a guide to help us know where to go after we learn about issues we didn't know about.
WHO SHOULD READ: Anyone willing to read it with open minds, fans of essays
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five important books

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