Monday, February 27, 2017

Book Review: We Gon' Be Alright

This month I chose to read We Gon' Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation by Jeff Chang for my non-fiction read and you guys - this book needs to be required reading for Americans in this day and age. This book doesn't have a ton of reviews on GoodReads which is a total shame and because of that I thought I'd do a review here on my blog so you all can get a better sense of what you would be walking into when you pick up with book. As it's non-fiction, there aren't really "spoilers" in this review, so read ahead to find out a bit more.

We Gon' Be Alright was published in September of 2016 so the topics discussed in the essays within this book are extremely relevant. Jeff Chang takes an extremely raw approach to these essays, combining personal accounts of activists, people and communities of color, and personal stories of his own relationship with race with hard data and statistics regarding the oppression of people in the United States. Each essay focuses on race in a different contexts, from student protests on university campuses, to the erasure of black and lantinx culture in society, to an absolutely gripping essay on Ferguson and the killing of Mike Brown.

This book had me gasping, bulging my eyes wide, and holding my stomach from how much it ached while reading this book. I had these reactions because these things are REAL. They happen every day to people in our country and it's be happening for hundred of years. It makes me sick to my stomach to read these stories but they are so necessary to hear and learn from.

In the essay Hands Up, there is a quote that reflects what I often think about as a white woman in our country. Regarding teaching her children about what the definition of justice following the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO, a mother shared the following thought:

"These are not the kinds of things that white people in the country would ever had to talk to their children about."

This is constantly in the back of my mind. As a white woman, I do not have to worry about being discriminated against because of the color of my skin, especially not from government officials or law enforcement. And the woman in the quote above is absolutely right - my parents never had to explain the idea of justice to me as a child. They never had to tell me to act a certain way around law enforcement. They never had to teach me how to not get arrested or even killed by a police officer simply by walking down the street. That in itself is the definition of white privilege.

That is just one of MANY thoughts I had while reading this book. This is an extremely thought provoking and emotional read, made all the more so by the fact that it is a non-fiction piece of literature that is backed up with statistics, data, and research. While I thoroughly enjoyed this book (it had me gripped the entire time), I know a book like this would be much more beneficial to so many other individuals. Folks who do not have the opportunity to hold social justice dialogue in their everyday life like I do. Folks who do not have the opportunity to interact with people different then them on a regular basis than I do. Folks that are altogether less familiar with the subject of race than I am. If I could hand this out to everyone in the United States I would do so without blinking an eye because the concepts and events discussed in this book are such vital knowledge in today's world.

Of course, I rated this book 
5/5 stars

and would 100% recommend you go and pick it up. As it's a newer release it's still a bit pricey, but I think it is totally worth the money. I read a library copy personally, but would love to own this book and will likely add it to my collection with my next haul.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 
Do you have a book that you would consider required reading for folks in your community? 
Let me know in the comments!

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