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Say Their Names: How Black Lives Came to Matter in America

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An incisive, gripping exploration of the forces that pushed our unjust system to its breaking point after the death of George Floyd and a definitive guide to America's present-day racial reckoning.   For many, the story of the weeks of protests in the summer of 2020 began with the horrific nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds when Police Officer Derek Chauvin killed George An incisive, gripping exploration of the forces that pushed our unjust system to its breaking point after the death of George Floyd and a definitive guide to America's present-day racial reckoning.   For many, the story of the weeks of protests in the summer of 2020 began with the horrific nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds when Police Officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd on camera, and it ended with the sweeping federal, state, and intrapersonal changes that followed. It is a simple story, wherein white America finally witnessed enough brutality to move their collective consciousness. The only problem is that it isn't true. George Floyd was not the first Black man to be killed by police—he wasn’t even the first to inspire nation-wide protests—yet his death came at a time when America was already at a tipping point.   In SAY THEIR NAMES, five seasoned journalists probe this critical shift. With a piercing examination of how inequality has been propagated throughout history, from Black imprisonment and the Convict Leasing program to long-standing predatory medical practices to over-policing, the authors highlight the disparities that have long characterized the dangers of being Black in America. They examine the many moderate attempts to counteract these inequalities, from the modern Civil Rights movement to Ferguson, and how the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others pushed compliance with an unjust system to its breaking point. Finally, they outline the momentous changes that have resulted from this movement, while at the same time proposing necessary next steps to move forward.   With a combination of penetrating, focused journalism and affecting personal insight, the authors bring together their collective years of reporting, creating a cohesive and comprehensive understanding of racial inequality in America.


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An incisive, gripping exploration of the forces that pushed our unjust system to its breaking point after the death of George Floyd and a definitive guide to America's present-day racial reckoning.   For many, the story of the weeks of protests in the summer of 2020 began with the horrific nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds when Police Officer Derek Chauvin killed George An incisive, gripping exploration of the forces that pushed our unjust system to its breaking point after the death of George Floyd and a definitive guide to America's present-day racial reckoning.   For many, the story of the weeks of protests in the summer of 2020 began with the horrific nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds when Police Officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd on camera, and it ended with the sweeping federal, state, and intrapersonal changes that followed. It is a simple story, wherein white America finally witnessed enough brutality to move their collective consciousness. The only problem is that it isn't true. George Floyd was not the first Black man to be killed by police—he wasn’t even the first to inspire nation-wide protests—yet his death came at a time when America was already at a tipping point.   In SAY THEIR NAMES, five seasoned journalists probe this critical shift. With a piercing examination of how inequality has been propagated throughout history, from Black imprisonment and the Convict Leasing program to long-standing predatory medical practices to over-policing, the authors highlight the disparities that have long characterized the dangers of being Black in America. They examine the many moderate attempts to counteract these inequalities, from the modern Civil Rights movement to Ferguson, and how the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others pushed compliance with an unjust system to its breaking point. Finally, they outline the momentous changes that have resulted from this movement, while at the same time proposing necessary next steps to move forward.   With a combination of penetrating, focused journalism and affecting personal insight, the authors bring together their collective years of reporting, creating a cohesive and comprehensive understanding of racial inequality in America.

49 review for Say Their Names: How Black Lives Came to Matter in America

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ethan

    At the start of this year, I resolved to diversify my reading. 2020 was a historic year for many reasons, but the call to action around the racial inequities that have plagued our country from the very beginning really moved me. I felt called to do more, share more, and learn more. An act as simple as seeking out work by a more diverse set of authors seemed like the least I could do. In the ensuing months, I've read so many incredible works that have challenged me, educated me, and moved me, eac At the start of this year, I resolved to diversify my reading. 2020 was a historic year for many reasons, but the call to action around the racial inequities that have plagued our country from the very beginning really moved me. I felt called to do more, share more, and learn more. An act as simple as seeking out work by a more diverse set of authors seemed like the least I could do. In the ensuing months, I've read so many incredible works that have challenged me, educated me, and moved me, each providing a perspective that I would not have normally been exposed to. When Grand Central Publishing sent me Say Their Names, a collection of essays chronicling the history and impact of the Black Lives Matter movement, I jumped at the opportunity to read it and share it here. The book opens with Curtis Bunn's essay Why Black Lives Matter Matters. Bunn sets straight the misinformation surrounding the movement. You see, for a lot of white Americans, the Black Lives Matter movement began when officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. The horrific abuse of power was filmed and shared across traditional and social media, rousing many Americans to call for justice. Likewise, for many of those same Americans, the entire matter was put to rest with cities and states issuing sweeping memorandums and reforms for their police departments and Chauvin being found guilty for murdering Floyd. If only it was that easy! Bunn traces the origins of BLM back to 2014 when young Travon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman. The roots of the movement, though, run deeply intertwined with the civil rights movement of the 1960s. More importantly, the continued injustice in policing, wealth, education, and so much more has continued to plague the Black community far beyond the tragedy with George Floyd. I was particularly moved by another essay by Bunn titled Black Women Stand Tall. It highlights the importance that Black women have held in recent developments within the cause, especially considering that the movement has historically been headed by men, specifically religious leaders. Bunn points to women like Stacy Abrams who turned her personal political loss in Georgia, into a stirring resolve to register voters, educate them, and help them to elect leaders who would truly fight for them. All of this, of course, resulted in the state voting in two Democrats in their Senate election, an upset for the status quo that in a large part caused Abrams to be defeated in the first place. With the likes of Kamala Harris elected to the second-highest office in the land, and countless mayors leading their cities to reform long-held, racist policies, Bunn recognized the importance of women helping to lead the cause forward. Whether you are just beginning to read more about the Black Lives Matter movement or are looking for a way to expand your knowledge on the subject, Say Their Names is well worth the read. I found the collection to not only contain a ton of history and context but also provide a more rounded perspective from the authors and the people featured in their writing. The authors do a fair job touting the successes of the movement while equalling calling for changes in areas that they see as lacking. For example, by having a movement with no central leader, there is sometimes the need for more transparency in how money is being collected and who is deciding how to fund things. The authors also point out the need for more diversification within the movement itself, particularly the need for more women and LGBTQ+ representation. Say Their Names is a fantastic overview of the history, people, and actions taken and needed within the movement for racial justice. I'm thankful that books like this continue to be published and read, and I hope that we all continue to do our part to make a more equitable world.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Natalie (readswithnatalieb)

    Hands down, this book is required reading. For those continuing their journey being anti-racist, this book is an absolute must. Not only do we dive into the history of racism, Bunn and the authors spend a lot of book explaining recent events, which every reader will be able to remember. I think this book may resonate a lot with folks, because as I just said, readers will remember these events happening in real time. As we learned (some) history in school and continue to do learn as each day passe Hands down, this book is required reading. For those continuing their journey being anti-racist, this book is an absolute must. Not only do we dive into the history of racism, Bunn and the authors spend a lot of book explaining recent events, which every reader will be able to remember. I think this book may resonate a lot with folks, because as I just said, readers will remember these events happening in real time. As we learned (some) history in school and continue to do learn as each day passes, I think being able to think of history as recent news rather than events that occurred 300 ago years may resonate more with people. I know that’s how I am. History was BOR-ING in school, but now, as I watch the world around me, it motivates me to learn more about the roots of events throughout history. My only request? More chapters in this book! All the chapters were long, and rightfully so, but part of me wanted to divide it a little more. I felt like in the middle of a chapter or towards the end of one, the topic that was at the beginning didn’t connect too much with the end. It felt like a few chapters had too long of a tangent. But either way, this book has a lot of great information in here, including the Georgia Senate race and how we flipped the state blue for Biden. It was pretty cool reading that knowing I was included in that difference. Big thank you to Grand Central Publishing for the finished copy!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kayla Rhein

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This is an incredibly important read for every American, and honestly it’s even more important for white Americans to read. I pride myself on not only being “not racist,” but instead vehemently “anti racist,” but this book opened my eyes and my heart even further. Out of all my NetGalley ARCs, this one stands at the top of my list for most impactful. Please, read this book. ASAP. I received this book in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    Offsetting the one star reviews clearly from people who rated based on the title alone.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marian Bron

    Thank you Goodreads Giveaway for the copy of Say Their Names. It was a valuable read. As a Canadian who didn’t always understand how the events of the last number of years could happen in the developed democratic country that is our southern neighbour, I looked forward to reading Say Their Names, hoping to gain a better understanding of Black Lives Matter. The authors, Curtis Bunn, Michael H. Cottman, Patrice Gaines, Nick Charles, and Keith Harriston, each tackled a different aspect of racism and Thank you Goodreads Giveaway for the copy of Say Their Names. It was a valuable read. As a Canadian who didn’t always understand how the events of the last number of years could happen in the developed democratic country that is our southern neighbour, I looked forward to reading Say Their Names, hoping to gain a better understanding of Black Lives Matter. The authors, Curtis Bunn, Michael H. Cottman, Patrice Gaines, Nick Charles, and Keith Harriston, each tackled a different aspect of racism and its effects on the lives of Black Americans. Some of the topics included were politics, the wealth gap, church, incarceration, and health which included the effects of the covid pandemic. The essays are presented in the light of recent events taken from the headlines and often illustrated with historical data. It should be a must read for everyone, not just Americans. Most every nation is guilty of racism. The book was an eye-opener. I learned more about important figures such as Stacey Abrams. Of course, a book like this is a bit of a rabbit hole, and rightly so, since it jumpstarts the desire to learn more, to read the books and articles that were referred to in the various essays, and from which excerpts were taken. The only negative I found was that I stumbled over some of the phrasing. Even after rereading the sentences a couple of times, they still seemed to make the exact opposite point of what I’m sure the author meant to make. But that may be just me. Definitely pick up a copy of this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Marie

    “We are at the tipping point. It is time to listen to the voices of advocates who speak for those Black bodies that have been silenced, locked away in cages, made invisible, rendered powerless for years.” Thank you @grandcentralpub for this gifted copy in exchange for an honest review! 📚💕 Informative. Thought provoking. Critical. This book is a collection of essays about the history, statistics, and first hand experiences of racism in the United States. There are stories about and from athletes, “We are at the tipping point. It is time to listen to the voices of advocates who speak for those Black bodies that have been silenced, locked away in cages, made invisible, rendered powerless for years.” Thank you @grandcentralpub for this gifted copy in exchange for an honest review! 📚💕 Informative. Thought provoking. Critical. This book is a collection of essays about the history, statistics, and first hand experiences of racism in the United States. There are stories about and from athletes, politicians, family members of individuals killed because the color of their skin, victims, police officers, advocates, and more. This book is extremely relevant as it not only focuses on the history of racism, but also how racism has sparked the recent Black Lives Matter movement and how covid has disproportionately affected people of color. This book reminded me of the importance of being an ally, checking myself and my own bias, and educating myself on the history of racism and current day instances of racism, those caught & posted on social media but also those that are not broadcasted. I definitely recommend this educational and eye-opening read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Curtis

    A vitally important book!!!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Evie Wu

  9. 4 out of 5

    Laci

  10. 5 out of 5

    glenda

  11. 5 out of 5

    Concinnous

  12. 5 out of 5

    Samm Cadwell

  13. 4 out of 5

    Madeline Caldwell

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cj

  15. 5 out of 5

    Risa

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jovita

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cat G | _basicbookworm

  18. 5 out of 5

    Marada

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

  20. 5 out of 5

    cindy

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sarah - All The Book Blog Names Are Taken

  22. 4 out of 5

    T.C.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jessie

  24. 5 out of 5

    Danielle Locks

  25. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Bianchi

  27. 4 out of 5

    Anne W

  28. 5 out of 5

    Leo

  29. 5 out of 5

    Srijana

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lashunda Hill

  31. 4 out of 5

    Lex with the Text (Alexis Sims)

  32. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Ridgway

  33. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany Manning

  34. 4 out of 5

    Jess Braith

  35. 5 out of 5

    Karen Clark

  36. 4 out of 5

    ashbee

  37. 4 out of 5

    Bree Adores Reading

  38. 5 out of 5

    Kris - My Novelesque Life

  39. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  40. 4 out of 5

    Jim Salisbury

  41. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

  42. 4 out of 5

    Towandajane

  43. 5 out of 5

    Helena Veda

  44. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

  45. 4 out of 5

    Agit Yumuşak

  46. 4 out of 5

    Adrián

  47. 4 out of 5

    M.C.

  48. 4 out of 5

    ColumbusReads

  49. 5 out of 5

    Alexis

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