I am a fan of Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.
Perhaps this is rooted in my background as little Black Baptist girl. When I hear his voice, endowed with wisdom and education, I can’t help but listen to him. By all means, I know there are others that would like to be the mouthpiece of a people. However, as the wife of a preacher of this gospel, today, I’ll go with Dr. Dyson.
In reading this work, I felt like I needed a plate. I felt as though I needed the big Mother Board hats, and be to shout and break out in to a dance. There is a power in this work that is truly understood when paired with the uniquely American-Black experience.
From police brutality, the casual racism, the examination of being called ‘nigger’ as a child, White guilt and the need to confront whiteness (to make it less damaging), I literally almost broke into tears. I almost cried for the same reason I was in tears after reading Eloquent Rage by Dr. Brittney Cooper.
I was heard. I was seen. And someone saw me. Someone saw me and said something! This book here? I indeed will gift this book to people I know who identify as an ally. Or whom may use allyship as a trending thing. There is a power in telling Whiteness as a whole that there is a problem here. It is not the problem of you being white; the problem is when you believe that in being White, you have done nothing wrong. That you are ignorant of the real history of this nation, and all the privilege it’s garnered. Enter here one of my favorite people, Mr. Timothy Wise. Google him.
With the eloquence most theologians have and practice, Dr. Dyson embodies the power Muhammad Ali did in his prime. His words, unadulterated speaking of truth to power, is the embodiment of ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’!
Dearest ones, there were and is so much in this book that I could tout. There were ancestral tears that I couldn’t even cry. On this day, on Father’s Day, I–like my forebearers moons and suns ago–I could only put my hands up. Indeed, this is all above me–and to get through all this madness? I need the Almighty.
He breaks down the danger of white nationalism versus patriotism. He confronts what he calls ‘the innocence of whiteness’, challenging us to examine our allegiance to race and class. Adding this cherry on it: the idea of race that makes class more relevant. You cannot confuse compassion with change, he says.
James Baldwin said it is the goal of the artist is to disturb the peace. Language is a form of art that can be portable and repeated. It is recorded thoughts to be repeated, its ideals to be mulled over so power can be challenged when needed or necessary!
One of the beautiful things about this book is I believe this book grants is that is a parallel social gospel. The definition of gospel is ‘good news.’ One of the benefits of the good news is that it exists! This book is a part of the Firestarter bookshelf is because there was a Black man with a critical lens. Speaking truth to power, whom have not casted off his own Blackness as success and fame would seduce him to do so! This is a part of love. This is a part of art. This is a part of speaking truth to power. One of my favorite quote by Dr. Dyson from this book is this:
“Justice is what love sounds like in public.”
This book is just that. Dr. Dyson frequently uses ‘beloved’ to infuse all these truths with love. Even as a shouted almost all the way through Chapters 5 and 6, I knew the reason why this book was written. But I couldn’t help the tears that fell. This book is a portion of justice for me, my brothers, and cousins and men that I had loved before. This book allowed me to be intersected and whole and grieve at the same time. I cried because like with all good preaching infused with the anointing of God, it touched me and made me want to change. Becoming more vocal, all while remembering I am Black despite all other disputed things.
Indeed, writing is justice. This book is a portion of it.