"THE SMARTEST BOOK OF THE YEAR" (THE WASHINGTON POST)
In these provocative, powerful essays acclaimed writer/journalist Jeff Chang (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, Who We Be) takes an incisive and wide-ranging look at the recent tragedies and widespread protests that have shaken the country. Through deep reporting with key activists and thinkers, passionately personal writing, and distinguished cultural criticism, We Gon’ Be Alright links #BlackLivesMatter to #OscarsSoWhite, Ferguson to Washington D.C., the Great Migration to resurgent nativism. Chang explores the rise and fall of the idea of “diversity,” the roots of student protest, changing ideas about Asian Americanness, and the impact of a century of racial separation in housing. He argues that resegregation is the unexamined condition of our time, the undoing of which is key to moving the nation forward to racial justice and cultural equity.
Chang (Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation) sounds the alarm about the "unmistakable lurch back to resegregation" in several spheres since the late '60s. Each chapter focuses on a different area: higher education practices and policies, campus life, funding for the arts, housing practices and policies, and the criminal justice system. Chang concludes with a challenge to the conventional narrow black/white dichotomy, examining how segregation affects Asian-Americans ("the in-betweens"). As Chang delineates present-day events, he is attentive to historical context; he is at his most provocative, thought-provoking, and informing when laying bare the economic and political structures beneath segregation practices, including the infusion of corporate executives into college management, financial inequities in arts funding, the racial transformation of housing, and the link between local budget revenues and law enforcement practices. His delineation of the "bad loop of history... crisis, reaction, backlash, complacency, crisis" in American race relations constitutes a timely appeal to end a pervasive silence over resegregation. Chang's title is optimistic, but the content of his book is not.