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MAKE CHANGE by Shaun King


How To Fight Injustice, Dismantle Systemic Oppression, and Own Our Future

by Shaun King

Pub Date: Aug. 4th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-358-04800-8
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

A blend of memoir and manifesto by Black Lives Matter leader King.

Born in 1979, the author was already a well-known activist, using social media for progressive causes, when a friend and Morehouse College classmate sent him a note advising him of a YouTube post showing the infamous 2014 “I can’t breathe” killing of Eric Garner by New York police. “The case and the injustice of the murder…consumed me from that day forward,” he writes. “I took it personally.” He dug deep to discover that the NYPD had banned the chokehold that killed Garner two decades earlier and discovered that police across the country “have shot and killed an average of three people a day,” most of whom never made the national news cycle, especially if they were members of ethnic minorities. Things are worse than ever, King writes, in a book that shares the spirit of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. The institutions that ostensibly protect all citizens are crumbling, gradually overcome by a creeping fascism that has risen slowly and stealthily over decades. What’s to be done? “Making change isn’t theoretical,” writes the author. “You have to get out there and fight for it. You have to be in the game, in the campaign, in the war.” Of course, that fight will involve losing some battles, as King’s mentor Bernie Sanders, who provides the foreword, has experienced, and it’s likely to be met by objections on the part of well-meaning people: “Nobody believes in me,” “I’ll start later,” “I’m afraid of failure.” There’s no time for all that, and King advises instead getting out and becoming involved in grassroots movements: “Don’t be pushy to the point of weirdness, but exchange information, and let them know that you are hoping to volunteer alongside them and could start immediately.” That encouragement is welcome, and in any event, writes King, those who oppose democratic change are busy on their end: “They are not passive defenders of the status quo but deliberate, forceful advocates of it.”

A vigorous complement to other primers in political activism and social justice.