Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White Americaby Michael Eric Dyson
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</b>/i>/b>/i>/b>/i>/b>/i>/b>/i>/i>
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
“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, powerfulTears 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 Stopa 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."
"Anguish and hurt throb in every word of Michael Eric Dyson's Tears We Cannot Stop...It is eloquent, righteous, and inspired...Often lyrical, Tears is not...without indignation...brilliance and rectitude." The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Dyson...creates a sermon unlike any we've heard or read, and it's right on time...an unapologetically bold plea for America to own up to its inexplicable identity anxiety." Essence
"[Dyson's] narrative voice carries a deeper and more intimate authority, as it grows from his own experience as a black man in America from being beaten by his father to being profiled by the police to dealing with his brother's long-term incarceration...Dyson's raw honesty and self-revelation enables him to confront his white audience and reach out to them." The Chicago Tribune
"Be ready to pause nearly every other sentence, absorb what is said, and prepare for action. Tears We Cannot Stop is meant to change your thinking." The Miami Times
"[Tears We Cannot Stop] talks directly to you, about issues deep, disturbing, and urgently in need of being faced." Philly.com
“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 (Editor's Choice)
"Impassioned." Library Journal
"Readers will find searing moments in Tears We Cannot Stop, when Dyson's words proves unforgettable...But more than education, Dyson wants a reckoning." The Washington Post
“Dyson lays bare our conscience, then offers redemption through our potential change.” Booklist
"If you read Michael Eric Dyson’s New York Times op-ed piece "Death in Black and White," then you know what a powerful work of cultural analysis his book, Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America is going to be. At a time when everyone needs to speak more openly, honestly, and critically about the racial divisions that have been allowed to grow in the United States, Dyson’s book available in January could not be a more welcome read." Bustle
"A hard-hitting sermon on the racial divide... The readership Dyson addresses may not fully be convinced, but it can hardly remain unmoved." Kirkus Reviews (Starred)
"Elegantly written, Tears We Cannot Stop is powerful in several areas: moving personal recollections; profound cultural analysis; and guidance for moral redemption. A work to relish." Toni Morrison
"Here’s a sermon that’s as fierce as it is lucid. It shook me up, but in a good way. This is how it works if you’re black in America, this is what happens, and this is how it feels. 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 knowwhat this white man needed to know, at least. This is a major achievement. I read it and said amen." Stephen King
"Michael Eric Dyson is alive to the fierce urgency of now and yet he's full of felicitous contradictions: an intellectual who won't talk down to anyone; a man of God who eschews piousness; a truth-teller who is not afraid of doubt or nuance; a fighter whose arguments, though always to the point, are never ad hominem. We can and should be thankful we have a writer like Michael Eric Dyson is our midst." Dave Eggers, from the preface of Can You Hear Me Now?
Activist, critic, scholar, and ordained Baptist minister Dyson (sociology, Georgetown Univ.; The Black Presidency) religiously lays out an order of service in hope of inspiring repentance, redemption, and reparation in a racially troubled America. Opening with a call to worship and closing with a prayer, his nine-chapter work with a central six-part sermon pleads for America to find its moral and spiritual foundations. Dyson traces the historical invention and social inheritance of whiteness, and how it has led America to ignore, discount, and dismiss black grievances. In order to make racial progress, Dyson passionately urges all Americans to reject racial revisionism and face difficult truths in addressing the disorder he labels Chronic Historical Evasion and Trickery, or CHEAT. This work is both lucid in its logic and profound in its probing and wide-ranging cultural and social analysis. Dyson's homily resonates amid personal recollection and reflection as a call to action for Americans to reach a positive future by working to cultivate empathy, develop racial literacy, and live up to the demands of justice. VERDICT A must-read for Americans who hope for a brighter day to emerge from the anguished hopelessness created by white idolatry and willful ignorance.—Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe
The provocateur-scholar returns to the pulpit to deliver a hard-hitting sermon on the racial divide, directed specifically to a white congregation. Though Dyson (Sociology/Georgetown Univ.; The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, 2016, etc.) may be best known for his writings on race and culture, he is also an ordained minister, and it is this role and voice he assumes in his latest manifesto. The book is structured as a religious service, and its cadences practically demand to be heard rather than read. Here is what he calls "a plea, a cry, a sermon, from my heart to yours," because "what I need to say can only be said as a sermon," one in which he preaches that "we must return to the moral and spiritual foundations of our country and grapple with the consequences of our original sin." Not that the faith Dyson espouses is specifically or narrowly Christian or directed solely to those of that religion. In his recasting, the original sin might be seen as white privilege and black subjugation, addressed throughout as a white problem that white people must take significant steps to confront—first, by accepting that "white history disguised as American history is a fantasy, as much a fantasy as white superiority and white purity. Those are all myths. They're intellectual rubbish, cultural garbage." The author demands that readers overcome their defensiveness and claims to innocence and recognize how much they've benefitted from that myth and how much black Americans have suffered from it—and continue to do so. Dyson personalizes the debates surrounding Black Lives Matter and the institutional subjugation of black citizens by police. He also proposes a form of reparations that is individual rather than institutional, that conscientious white people might set up "an I.R.A., an Individual Reparations Account" and commit themselves to the service of black children, black prisoners, black protestors, and black communities. The readership Dyson addresses may not fully be convinced, but it can hardly remain unmoved by his fiery prose.
- St. Martin's Press
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Meet the Author
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON is one of America’s premier public intellectuals. He occupies the distinguished position of University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University, is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, and is a contributing editor of The New Republic and ESPN’s The Undefeated. Ebony magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential African Americans and one of the 150 most powerful blacks in the nation.
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Dyson writes this brilliant book as a sermon, appealing to white Americans to recognize the various ways in which both institutional and individual racism affect ALL of us adversely. His searing prose and fearless confrontation of this thorny issue is reminiscent of James Baldwin's memorable work The Fire Next Time.
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Dyson writes an epic book for all of America, but for white america in particular. A must read for anyone that cares about how to reduce hatred and death and divisiveness in this country raised on the backs of black slaves. Really read it and try to experience your own racism. He writes beautifully and directly to us all.
Playing to the victim mentality Time to stop wallowing in contrived guilt Accept the past for what it was and leave it Work on today and live by the Golden Rule