James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own
by Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
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Pub Date 30 Jun 2020 | Archive Date 31 Dec 2021
Crown Publishing, Crown
James Baldwin grew disillusioned by the failure of the civil rights movement to force America to confront its lies about race. What can we learn from his struggle in our own moment?
Named one of the best books of the year by Time, The Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune • Winner of the Stowe Prize • Shortlisted for the Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice
“Not everything is lost. Responsibility cannot be lost, it can only be abdicated. If one refuses abdication, one begins again.”—James Baldwin
Begin Again is one of the great books on James Baldwin and a powerful reckoning with America’s ongoing failure to confront the lies it tells itself about race. Just as in Baldwin’s “after times,” argues Eddie S. Glaude Jr., when white Americans met the civil rights movement’s call for truth and justice with blind rage and the murders of movement leaders, so in our moment were the Obama presidency and the birth of Black Lives Matter answered with the ascendance of Trump and the violent resurgence of white nationalism.
In these brilliant and stirring pages, Glaude finds hope and guidance in Baldwin as he mixes biography—drawn partially from newly uncovered Baldwin interviews—with history, memoir, and poignant analysis of our current moment to reveal the painful cycle of Black resistance and white retrenchment. As Glaude bears witness to the difficult truth of racism’s continued grip on the national soul, Begin Again is a searing exploration of the tangled web of race, trauma, and memory, and a powerful interrogation of what we must ask of ourselves in order to call forth a new America.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 14 members
This book is quite dense but full of a lot of great info.
Reading Baldwin’s words/thoughts that are still relevant to what we’re going through today was both illuminating and depressing (that we still have so far to go). I wrote down a bunch of quotes that I’ll add to my review once the book is released,
I liked that at the end of each chapter, Glaude reiterated how to make the connections between then and now.
I made some great connections to Nikole Hannah-Jones’ 1619 Project and what Bryan Stevenson often talks about: how in order to make any substantial changes in our society, we must take an honest look at our history, own it, and learn to change the narrative.
While we still have a lot of work to do, I overall felt a lot of hope after reading this book.
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