Jeff Chang
In the provocative essays in journalist Jeff Chang’s new book We Gon’ Be Alright, Chang takes an incisive and wide-ranging look at the recent tragedies and widespread protests that have shaken the country. Through deep reporting with key activists and thinkers, personal writing, and cultural criticism, We Gon’ Be Alright links #BlackLivesMatter to #OscarsSoWhite, Ferguson to Washington D.C., the Great Migration to resurgent nativism. Chang explores the rise and fall of the idea of “diversity,” the roots of student protest, changing ideas about Asian Americanness, and the impact of a century of racial separation in housing. “He implores readers to listen, act, and become involved with today’s activists, who offer ‘new ways to see our past and our present,’ ” our reviewer writes in a starred review. “A compelling and intellectually thought-provoking exploration of the quagmire of race relations.”


KIRKUS REVIEW

In this collection, written “in appreciation of all the young people who would not bow down,” outspoken journalist Chang (Who We Be: A Cultural History of Race in Post-Civil Rights America, 2014, etc.) offers six critical essays addressing racial inequality and inequity and how these provocative, multifaceted issues impact virtually every culture.

Though he acknowledges that race relations continue to negatively emblemize “the permanent fog of a country that repeats the spectacle of fire in every generation,” the author explores the potential for cultural change he believes still lies within society’s grasp, even while serious issues remain. He asserts that Donald Trump and bands of culture-war extremists have capitalized on “the energies of anxious whites [who] have been diverted from class uprising toward racial division.” Chang further considers “the whiteness of Hollywood” and the inherent racial bigotry of the film and TV industries, suburban colorization, and more recent influential work from artists like Beyoncé. When absorbed individually, the author’s incisive essays will educate and inform readers. Collectively, Chang creates a chain-linked manifesto arguing for an end to racially charged violence and discrimination and urging global open-mindedness to the struggle of the oppressed. Intended as a written response to the Ferguson, Missouri, riots, the book also offers moving observations of those months of unrest and palpably captures the charged atmosphere on the streets and the history-making heft of the protests. Readers seeking remedies to racial discord will instead find a multifaceted history lesson coupled with troubling updates on recent urban upsets within the author’s interconnected discourse. With his galvanizing message, Chang reiterates that while there is much work to be done on the inequality front, the opportunity to “get it right” has not passed us by. He implores readers to listen, act, and become involved with today’s activists, who offer “new ways to see our past and our present.”

A compelling and intellectually thought-provoking exploration of the quagmire of race relations.


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