Tears We Cannot Stop
A Sermon to White America
NOW A NEW YORK TIMES, PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY, INDIEBOUND, LOS ANGELES TIMES, WASHINGTON POST, CHRONICLE HERALD, SALISBURY POST, GUELPH MERCURY TRIBUNE, AND BOSTON GLOBE BESTSELLER | NAMED A BEST/MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2017 BY: The Washington Post • Bustle • Men's Journal • The Chicago Reader • StarTribune • Blavity • The Guardian • NBC New York's Bill's Books • Kirkus • Essence
“One of the most frank and searing discussions on race ... a deeply serious, urgent book, which should take its place in the tradition of Baldwin's The Fire Next Time and King's Why We Can't Wait." —The New York Times Book Review
Toni Morrison hails Tears We Cannot Stop as "Elegantly written and powerful in several areas: moving personal recollections; profound cultural analysis; and guidance for moral redemption. A work to relish."
Stephen King says: "Here’s a sermon that’s as fierce as it is lucid…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."
Short, emotional, literary, powerful—Tears We Cannot Stop is the book that all Americans who care about the current and long-burning crisis in race relations will want to read.
As the country grapples with racist division at a level not seen since the 1960s, one man's voice soars above the rest with conviction and compassion. In his 2016 New York Times op-ed piece "Death in Black and White," Michael Eric Dyson moved a nation. Now he continues to speak out in Tears We Cannot Stop—a provocative and deeply personal call for change. Dyson 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.
"The time is at hand for reckoning with the past, recognizing the truth of the present, and moving together to redeem the nation for our future. If we don't act now, if you don't address race immediately, there very well may be no future."
In this latest Dyson offering, Mr. Dyson is making a direct appeal to white Americans to give up their hold hold on whiteness and once and for all really try and understand what it is that Black Americans feel and deal with on a daily basis in our sojourn on these shores. Indeed, "that white America can definitively, finally, hear from one black American preacher a plea, a cry, a sermon, from my heart to yours." While Dyson presents a very compelling case, I'm afraid it will fall on deaf ears. He says, the only way he could have said these words is in a form of a sermon and that for the most part is the way the book is constructed. In the middle it is more of an essay form though he continues nominally with the sermon flavor. Essentially, Dyson argues we (Black folks ) have to depend on the ability and willingness of white folks to change their hearts and minds if the race issue will ever see the light of transformation.
"And there is a paradox that many of you (white folk) refuse to see: to get to a point where race won't make a difference, we have to wrestle, first, with the difference that race makes.......... When it comes to race the past is always present." A tall order for a people to in fact cash in their own privilege and cast their lot with the dark and despised. I'm not of the religious bent, so my faith in that is negligible. Dyson strains to make clear the difference between individual racism and bias compared to institutional racism. "It is harder to indict forces and institutions than the individuals who put a face to the problem. Institutional racism is a system of ingrained social practices that perpetuate and preserve racial hierarchy."I don't think Dyson has gone in as hard as he thinks he has. He drops reminders throughout that he and his children are very accomplished, not sure why he found that necessary.
The most disappointing part of the book is Dyson arguing for the continued use of ni**er, because we have effectively flipped the word to a more positive and endearing meaning, even effectively changing the spelling of the word to end in ga. Makes me want to holler, N! please. A wordsmith like Dyson should be ashamed of himself to engage in that cowardly nonsense. He even quotes Jay -Z, to buttress his argument. The simple fact of the matter is that the cost of using ni**er is zero. Try using some pejorative words to refer to other groups and see what happens. So, if you can't be universal in the the use of pejoratives, I say stop it when it comes to us. Otherwise, you are showing your cowardice. If you think I'm over reacting see Michael Jackson and the furor surrounding his song, 'They don't really care about us' and Marlon Brando about the stereotypes that have failed to make it to the silver screen. Dyson, being the scholar and wordsmith that he is should no better. Those who don't have the articulation and erudition of Dyson would be hard pressed to explain why ga is different than er and argue for it's use and white Americans non-use. Stop it Dyson.
He closes strong with a discussion concerning the killing of black bodies with impunity from this who've taken a vow to protect and serve us. He asks whites to put themselves in our shoes. He suggests to whites, who ask, "what can I do" to open up an IRA, an individual reparation account and pay a black tax, perhaps paying extra for services received from a Black provider.
Dyson ultimately concludes that, " We don't hate you, white America. We hate that you terrorize us and then lie about it and then make us feel crazy for having to explain to you how crazy it makes us feel. We cannot hate you, not really, not most of us; that is our gift to you. We cannot halt you; that is our curse."
This book certainty has the power to make white Americans contemplate the present and future, the question is will they buy it and embrace the content?
Tears We Cannot Stop
Honeslty, this is best book I’ve read this year so far. Mr. Dyson breaks down "Barney Style" the oppression of Black America. Explains to White America why Black Lives Matter, why we are subject to the killing by white police officers, why Slavery should be mentioned in American History, why affirmative action is due, and why black people don’t stand during the pledge of allegiance. Great book, every white person in America should read this book. The ingnorance has to stop!
Dyson's analysis provides a much needed, long overdue wake up call to White America, breaks down the layers of a culture of oppression and denial, and inspires hope for a future of understanding.