The credo of a Black Lives Matter activist.
Former school administrator Mckesson won prominence in 2014 after joining protests against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, where he used social media to document 400 days in the streets being “pepper sprayed, smoke bombed, and shot at with rubber bullets.” Now in his early 30s and host of the podcast Pod Save the People, the author grew up the son of drug addicts in Baltimore and worked as a teenage community organizer. “We took to the streets as a matter of life and death,” he writes of Ferguson. “What else could we do?” In this deeply felt debut, he combines memoir with discussions of race and violence in America, offering an inside view of the BLM movement. “In each generation there is a moment when young and old, inspired or disillusioned, come together around a shared hope, imagine the world as it can be, and have the opportunity to bring that world into existence,” he writes. “Our moment is now.” Mckesson makes a strong case for social media as the key rallying point for this latest protest movement: “Twitter saved our lives,” he writes, explaining how the “new tactic for a new time” allows demonstrators to organize and tell their stories to one another and the nation. Much of the book focuses on police violence; together with others, the author created Mapping Police Violence, a national database on people killed by police. Such killings—1,200 people each year, with blacks three times more likely to be victims than whites—represent a “systemic” problem in which police control of information allows them to create an “uncontested narrative” and union contracts prevent accountability. In exploring his personal story of growing up a much-bullied gay black youth, Mckesson notes how comic-book superheroes taught him “how to imagine” a different America based on faith (that things will be better) and hope (that they can be).
A compelling account of technology-powered protest.