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On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope

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"On the Other Side of Freedom reveals the mind and motivations of a young man who has risen to the fore of millennial activism through study, discipline, and conviction. His belief in a world that can be made better, one act at a time, powers his narratives and opens up a view on the costs, consequences, and rewards of leading a movement."--Henry Louis Gates, Jr. From the i "On the Other Side of Freedom reveals the mind and motivations of a young man who has risen to the fore of millennial activism through study, discipline, and conviction. His belief in a world that can be made better, one act at a time, powers his narratives and opens up a view on the costs, consequences, and rewards of leading a movement."--Henry Louis Gates, Jr. From the internationally recognized civil rights activist/organizer and host of the podcast Pod Save the People, a meditation on resistance, justice, and freedom, and an intimate portrait of a movement from the front lines. In August of 2014, twenty-nine-year-old activist DeRay Mckesson stood with hundreds of others on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, to push a message of justice and accountability. These protests, and others like them in cities across the country, resulted in the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement. Now, in his first book, Mckesson lays out the intellectual, pragmatic political framework for a new liberation movement. Continuing a conversation about activism, resistance, and justice that embraces our nation's complex history, he dissects how deliberate oppression persists, how racial injustice strips our lives of promise, and how technology has added a new dimension to mass action and social change. He argues that our best efforts to combat injustice have been stunted by the belief that racism's wounds are history, and suggests that intellectual purity has curtailed optimistic realism. The book offers a new framework and language for understanding the nature of oppression. With it, we can begin charting a course to dismantle the obvious and subtle structures that limit freedom. Honest, courageous, and imaginative, On the Other Side of Freedom is a work brimming with hope. Drawing from his own experiences as an activist, organizer, educator, and public official, Mckesson exhorts all Americans to work to dismantle the legacy of racism and to imagine the best of what is possible. Honoring the voices of a new generation of activists, On the Other Side of Freedom is a visionary's call to take responsibility for imagining, and then building, the world we want to live in.


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"On the Other Side of Freedom reveals the mind and motivations of a young man who has risen to the fore of millennial activism through study, discipline, and conviction. His belief in a world that can be made better, one act at a time, powers his narratives and opens up a view on the costs, consequences, and rewards of leading a movement."--Henry Louis Gates, Jr. From the i "On the Other Side of Freedom reveals the mind and motivations of a young man who has risen to the fore of millennial activism through study, discipline, and conviction. His belief in a world that can be made better, one act at a time, powers his narratives and opens up a view on the costs, consequences, and rewards of leading a movement."--Henry Louis Gates, Jr. From the internationally recognized civil rights activist/organizer and host of the podcast Pod Save the People, a meditation on resistance, justice, and freedom, and an intimate portrait of a movement from the front lines. In August of 2014, twenty-nine-year-old activist DeRay Mckesson stood with hundreds of others on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, to push a message of justice and accountability. These protests, and others like them in cities across the country, resulted in the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement. Now, in his first book, Mckesson lays out the intellectual, pragmatic political framework for a new liberation movement. Continuing a conversation about activism, resistance, and justice that embraces our nation's complex history, he dissects how deliberate oppression persists, how racial injustice strips our lives of promise, and how technology has added a new dimension to mass action and social change. He argues that our best efforts to combat injustice have been stunted by the belief that racism's wounds are history, and suggests that intellectual purity has curtailed optimistic realism. The book offers a new framework and language for understanding the nature of oppression. With it, we can begin charting a course to dismantle the obvious and subtle structures that limit freedom. Honest, courageous, and imaginative, On the Other Side of Freedom is a work brimming with hope. Drawing from his own experiences as an activist, organizer, educator, and public official, Mckesson exhorts all Americans to work to dismantle the legacy of racism and to imagine the best of what is possible. Honoring the voices of a new generation of activists, On the Other Side of Freedom is a visionary's call to take responsibility for imagining, and then building, the world we want to live in.

30 review for On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope

  1. 5 out of 5

    chantel nouseforaname

    You have to appreciate what DeRay has contributed to the culture. An idea that he discusses is that sometimes, a lot of the time, people just need someone to point their "founder" label at to make sense of shit that happens in the world. They need to label someone "founder of a movement" to either point their hate at or point their love at and he's been, a lot of the time, the focal point of that sort of attention; whether or not he wanted it. Then there's this kind of underlying conversation or You have to appreciate what DeRay has contributed to the culture. An idea that he discusses is that sometimes, a lot of the time, people just need someone to point their "founder" label at to make sense of shit that happens in the world. They need to label someone "founder of a movement" to either point their hate at or point their love at and he's been, a lot of the time, the focal point of that sort of attention; whether or not he wanted it. Then there's this kind of underlying conversation or inner-battle that comes through the text here where it seems like he's not intentionally trying to battle with if he deserves that label although he rejects it.. you get a sense sort of that he's vying for it, but not really. I don't know. It's an underlying tone that I as the reader felt when he described his involvement in the movement. He states that he didn't aim for the "founder of a movement" tag, nor did he want or accept it, that it just sort of manifested the way that it did. I thought that it was honest to see him draw attention to that point because it further highlights that realistically; community ownership and representation matters, even in a crisis, as it should. For people who live in Ferguson and have been organizing against the injustice from time, representation is important. It's important for DeRay to acknowledge that many people directly from that community that he leant his face to have been fighting for justice for ages. I don't want to say that he admits he's a vulture; but I do want to say that he admits it's important to be there for others and create family and build community when you see something happening that's unjust. It's important to Colin Kapernick and stand for something. WHICH IS WHY I ALSO only gave this book three stars. I'm tired of seeing faces telling their stories even though it's their book. I know that's a wild concept; but hear me out. I think it's important to continue with the legacy of what you're doing and what you've started to do in the public sphere. I want to see people with platforms amplify the voices that they are trying to amplify by busting open space. Critique and dissect the injustices yes! catalogue them and make them open for public view! You've done a lot for justice (for example he talks about working with academics to index police killings based on already-published news stories to get a clearer picture of the numbers of civilians killed by police), you're doing all this important work so why not fight forward still, sharing educational pieces that incorporate your story instead of your story that incorporates educational pieces deep-rooted in a "look what i did" sort of mentality. It's important to tell your story and yes, the book is good; but it brings about the taste of why people have issues in the first place with DeRay's approach to things. I think if you're really going to tell your story you have to deep dive into your story, that's what people really want to know. Like I feel like the chapter about his mom could have been a whole book. I feel like the chapter about black men, love and homosexuality from the lens of someone in the public eye in a freedom-fighter position is a HUGE story. Maybe he didn't want to jump all the way in, but doing a little touch of it just felt like you don't really want to tell your story, but you have to - for a purpose of.. what exactly? Creating some sort of narrative about your ... Exactly. I completely understand what he's saying as well when he talks about the need to think of change and reform in multi-leveled ways. It's important to connect with people who don't share the same viewpoints as you (his attempt at connecting We the Protesters w/ Bernie Sanders and backing Hilary Clinton). It's important to trying to push the envelope by a method of engagement rather than separatism. I completely agree. I just wish that he'd have put diverse perspectives at the forefront. BUT I GET IT, this is his story. It could just be the first of many and he decided to start his authorial output with himself; which is a good place to start but, a man's story is never not heard; so, I mean. *shrug** One of the crucial takeaways that I derived from this book is that it's important to tell the truth. I'm repeating myself a little but I think it's his strongest message. It's important to stand for something. More important than all of it - sometimes it's just important to put your money where your mouth is to sort of just be there. Just be present to document and transmit. We need everyone to see us, the US pushing forward for change. We need them to see that we ain't going anywhere. That we are here. Not a faceless mass, actual people in a fucking huge mass that grows exponentially by the day. DeRay takes a lot of flack. ANYONE on twitter knows this. This book is really great in the sense that it shines a light into the man and his background that not a lot of people get to hear about. I would love to read a book by Johnetta Elzie and her thoughts and viewpoints on any variety of topics. I look forward to that.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This book is part memoir and part discussion of racial issues that affect the US. DeRay McKesson relates life experiences while also making you think how society is set up. This book is a must read. I was provided a copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joshunda Sanders

    How can you not know about Deray and his everpresent blue vest? This beautiful memoir has some lovely additional details about it, of course, but what is most resonant is additional information about his connection to his family, how he came to be engaged in Ferguson and the larger Movement for Black Lives and his uniquely graceful, eloquent description of moving from being quiet about his sexuality to speaking up, along with the heart-tugging beauty of his relationship with his birth mother and How can you not know about Deray and his everpresent blue vest? This beautiful memoir has some lovely additional details about it, of course, but what is most resonant is additional information about his connection to his family, how he came to be engaged in Ferguson and the larger Movement for Black Lives and his uniquely graceful, eloquent description of moving from being quiet about his sexuality to speaking up, along with the heart-tugging beauty of his relationship with his birth mother and the others who have mothered him. Deray is a masterful storyteller, with a keen grasp of history. There is a curious gap in the timeline he gives for Black Lives Matter and obvious names missing (as though knowledgeable readers will be able to fill them in) even as he makes meaningful points about who gets to claim the founding or origins of a movement and who gets erased and who tells those stories (or who doesn’t). In this lovely and significant book this moment is not a reason to throw Deray away or disregard any of his truths. It’s merely notable and a moment that is in stark contrast to the transcendent beauty and clarity and call of specific moments and people by name that are so moving throughout most of its pages.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nadine Bergeron

    On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope is a meditation on resistance, justice, freedom, and a call to arms because standing idly by doesn’t cut it anymore. Making your voice heard among the voices that wish to silence you is as important as ever because everything that’s been fought for and won is now under attack. McKesson started a podcast awhile back with a monologue that resonated with me about protecting the win. It’s no longer not enough just to win. You have to then continue figh On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope is a meditation on resistance, justice, freedom, and a call to arms because standing idly by doesn’t cut it anymore. Making your voice heard among the voices that wish to silence you is as important as ever because everything that’s been fought for and won is now under attack. McKesson started a podcast awhile back with a monologue that resonated with me about protecting the win. It’s no longer not enough just to win. You have to then continue fighting for more while protecting what’s already been achieved. I think On the Other Side of Freedom is just that. Detailing the fight, what’s been achieved, and what still needs to be accomplished. “What it’s taught me is that freedom is fragile, and that’s a lesson that I never want to forget.” I decided to pick up On the Other Side of Freedom because I listen to Pod Save the People on a weekly basis. Though I’m not American, so a lot of the more specific issues do not necessarily apply, the larger scope of the pod does. It’s important to me to be informed, so that I can do all that I can to check my white privilege. Books like these are a constant reminder that the work is never done. The only issue I had with On the Other Side of Freedom is that McKesson skims the surface of the topics covered in each part. There were so many times I wanted him to expand further and dig deeper on topics like technology, police brutality and inequality, his relationship with his mother, and his experience as a black gay man. “We do not stand in the shadows of those who came before us, but in their glow. And the glow exists because they put forth a vision of the future and they fought for it. We did not invent resistance or discover injustice in August 2014. We exist in a legacy of struggle, a legacy rooted in hope.” Overall, On the Other Side of Freedom is a great place to start if you’re looking for a deeper look into the social justice movement by someone who has been on the frontlines.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    Once in awhile I want to give a book six stars, this is one of them. DeRay Mckesson writes beautifully and intelligently about his life, about St Louis, about the structure of America's police forces, and about politics. I am sad that this young man did not get elected mayor of our city! I remember reading or hearing somewhere in the run-up to the primary that he was the candidate with the most clearly articulated and thought out platform, and that was enough for me. I have already pulled my fav Once in awhile I want to give a book six stars, this is one of them. DeRay Mckesson writes beautifully and intelligently about his life, about St Louis, about the structure of America's police forces, and about politics. I am sad that this young man did not get elected mayor of our city! I remember reading or hearing somewhere in the run-up to the primary that he was the candidate with the most clearly articulated and thought out platform, and that was enough for me. I have already pulled my favorite quotes put on Facebook, so l will just say that his remarks on the American obsession with earning/deserving and on the disdain in some liberal quarters for 'reform' bear thinking about. More, please.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Notkin

    I am a huge fan of POD SAVE THE PEOPLE, a podcast hosted by DeRay (who makes his listeners feel like we should use his first name) so I came to this with a positive spin ... and I was not at all disappointed. This book is mostly about how he came to activism, as a result of Mike Brown's murder-by-police in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, contexted by many other things that are important in his life, which include his childhood, his homosexuality, his relationship with the mother who left when he was I am a huge fan of POD SAVE THE PEOPLE, a podcast hosted by DeRay (who makes his listeners feel like we should use his first name) so I came to this with a positive spin ... and I was not at all disappointed. This book is mostly about how he came to activism, as a result of Mike Brown's murder-by-police in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, contexted by many other things that are important in his life, which include his childhood, his homosexuality, his relationship with the mother who left when he was three, and his experience of being mentored by Storm from the X-Men. As he is on the podcast, DeRay is clear, honest, opinionated, and willing to question his own ideas throughout. I found myself agreeing with him so many times, even though we come from such divergent backgrounds and experiences. I love the way he integrates the theoretical with the personal, the political with the everyday. I love his simultaneous commitment to gradual change and radical change. On the Other Side of Freedom is short. It's a very quick read. I don't believe he actually wrote it as a collection of separate essays, so my only complaint about it is that it's somewhat choppy and the order in which he jumps from topic to topic doesn't always make sense to me. But the person behind the topics does make sense to me, and helps me see how the world can be changed.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    This is a really beautiful and personal book. I especially appreciated the inclusion and naming of people who could easily be forgotten, generally for some reason that makes them easy to marginalize: gay, a woman, a pregnant teenager. Those constraints put on acceptance constrain the fight for freedom. One of those was Marcus Anthony Hunter, who first used #blacklivesmatter in the context of "black migration and movement is the defining characteristic of growth in cities and always has been". The This is a really beautiful and personal book. I especially appreciated the inclusion and naming of people who could easily be forgotten, generally for some reason that makes them easy to marginalize: gay, a woman, a pregnant teenager. Those constraints put on acceptance constrain the fight for freedom. One of those was Marcus Anthony Hunter, who first used #blacklivesmatter in the context of "black migration and movement is the defining characteristic of growth in cities and always has been". The hash tag has been so strongly associated with death, and there are reasons for that, but it was an interesting perspective and it helps open the mind to new possibilities, which is truly important for freedom. Mckesson does an eloquent job of finding his personal and using it to understand the political.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kent Winward

    Nothing bad here, but not a lot that stands out. Nothing quite like Ta nehisi Coates or Cornell West.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Emmanuel

    So much power in these pages, but can I also say that this is the single greatest opening line of an essay?: "It wasn't that I didn't believe in god, but that I believed in Storm from the X-Men more." <3!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Susie Dumond

    DeRay Mckesson is a powerful advocate who has become one of the most visible leaders of the #blacklivesmatter movement. This book is part essay collection and part memoir, and delves into his beginnings as a protester, experiences in activism, and advice for fighting against white supremacy and police violence. Mckesson does a great job of making the personal political and using his own memories as a mirror for society. I feel like it took a while for his unique voice and perspective to emerge f DeRay Mckesson is a powerful advocate who has become one of the most visible leaders of the #blacklivesmatter movement. This book is part essay collection and part memoir, and delves into his beginnings as a protester, experiences in activism, and advice for fighting against white supremacy and police violence. Mckesson does a great job of making the personal political and using his own memories as a mirror for society. I feel like it took a while for his unique voice and perspective to emerge from the text, but overall, it's a meaningful glimpse into an incredible movement.

  11. 5 out of 5

    brittany

    Finally! A discussion on racial issues that is informative and insightful! A lot of my issues with past memoirs/nonfiction that I read that focused heavily on race was that these books would read very "Racism 101" to me.  I'm not saying that I am an expert on the subject matter, but what is discussed in a lot of books that is marketed towards the general public is very basic and little would resonate with me.  I often wondered why that is... Were these authors afraid to dig deeper? Were they appr Finally! A discussion on racial issues that is informative and insightful! A lot of my issues with past memoirs/nonfiction that I read that focused heavily on race was that these books would read very "Racism 101" to me.  I'm not saying that I am an expert on the subject matter, but what is discussed in a lot of books that is marketed towards the general public is very basic and little would resonate with me.  I often wondered why that is... Were these authors afraid to dig deeper? Were they apprehensive to engage with non Black people because they felt as though no one else could understand? I'm not sure.   This book is the antithesis of that idea.  McKesson gave new insights to social justice in many ways.  He explores how movements are affected by social media, his experiences in Ferguson, and the different ways he tried to engage with people and create progress.  I also loved that McKesson also made it a point to highlight (multiple times!) the [queer and Black] women who helped him during this time.  He also highlighted multiple "forgotten stories" of heroes from the Civil Rights Movement that inspired him to continue to do this work. McKesson's story about his family, identity, sexuality, and religious values were also a personal touch that resonated with me deeply (to a point where I might have gotten a little emotional), and I am sure will resonate with other readers as well.   His book ends with a letter to an activist, a perfect summary to all the points made, and a call to action for those who are willing and ready to stand up and fight for what they believe in, even if they were to stand alone. Is McKesson the best writer? No. I found that he does write like how he speaks at most times, and while part of that is his voice coming through in his writing, in the beginning, it was a little distracting.  Despite that one criticism, I would recommend this to anyone.  McKesson makes incredibly valid points that are easy to follow, and also challenges readers to think about their actions in relation to social justice, striving for personal justice, and encouraging people who are willing to learn that although it might be an uncomfortable conversation at first, it is necessary to begin engaging in action. I remember so vividly the period of time during the Ferguson protests, the death of Mike Brown, and the birth of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.  I was a quiet college student at a Prominently White Institution (PWI) who rarely spoke up in class, or anywhere for that matter.  It was during this period of time where things were so scary I had no choice BUT to speak up.  My people (Black people) were dying, and  I was afraid for my family back home.  I was in a space where I felt so alone, I knew I had to find a way to participate in the fight for change.  First, by speaking up in class, then engaging on social media, writing about my experiences and sharing them with others, and soon acting in the real world.  This period of time was pivotal for me, personally.  I remember saying in class that these protests in Ferguson are going to be written about in the history books.  DeRay McKesson's account of these events are proof that these moments need to be talked about and never forgotten.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    "So much of what trauma does to us is trap us in the present; it traps us in its constraints. We often see the limitations all around us because we need to see them in order to survive. Not to see them would be deadly. We become gifted at knowing how far to push before the world pushes back on us. But Storm? Storm didn't live in a world with those constraints. And for thirty minutes each weekend, neither did I." pg. 107 "History is the accumulation of our stories. Stories help us make sense of th "So much of what trauma does to us is trap us in the present; it traps us in its constraints. We often see the limitations all around us because we need to see them in order to survive. Not to see them would be deadly. We become gifted at knowing how far to push before the world pushes back on us. But Storm? Storm didn't live in a world with those constraints. And for thirty minutes each weekend, neither did I." pg. 107 "History is the accumulation of our stories. Stories help us make sense of the choices we've made, of the choices we're afraid to make, and of those choices made for us that define our lives. There is a reason we tell stories. The world we live in doesn't always make sense. Or it is so unpredictable that we need tools, devices, and images to help us process its pace and flow. We tell stories to remember, to pass on what we've learned, to nurture the thread of progress. Our stories give meaning to moments and birth new ones. They organize what is exceptional in ways that are understandable." pg. 154 "In some ways, [the media] are still complicit, even now, by pushing a soul-searching narrative for Democrats, suggesting that the party fundamentally misread the electorate while seeming to ignore the fact that Clinton won the popular vote by over 3 million votes, and that the margin of victory amounted to less than 100,000 votes spread out over a few key states."pg. 161 "Language is the first act. It distributes and redistributes power. It carries the kernel of the ideas that shape how we think about the world. The dominant culture--that is, white people--suppressed the notion of a white terrorist because it is impossible to conceive of whiteness as evil, a space decidedly reserved for black and brown people." pg. 164 "In fighting to help this country, this world, to be one that is worthy of the beauty of your life, you will undoubtedly experience pain--the normal pain of life and the pain of struggle. But pain is now who you are. You are, and have always been, more than your pain." pg. 208 "Be mindful not to internalize the ills of the world, but to be able to recognize them and then actively work to disrupt them and undo their damage." pg. 208

  13. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    I was fortunate enough last spring to see DeRay Mckesson and Brene Brown have a long discussion about how to have the difficult conversations, and so much of what they discussed stuck with me and has informed my activism afterward. My favorite take-away from the whole thing was something that DeRay said to the effect of "allies are good to have, but accomplices are better." It's nice to know that someone has your back, but it is essential to have someone who is willing to stand beside you and fa I was fortunate enough last spring to see DeRay Mckesson and Brene Brown have a long discussion about how to have the difficult conversations, and so much of what they discussed stuck with me and has informed my activism afterward. My favorite take-away from the whole thing was something that DeRay said to the effect of "allies are good to have, but accomplices are better." It's nice to know that someone has your back, but it is essential to have someone who is willing to stand beside you and face the same consequences. This book, along with its memoir of his entrance into activism through the protests at Ferguson, to his multiple meetings with President Obama, to his efforts to train police and demand police accountability for use of force. It is full of statistical facts, as well as personal stories, and I think it should be read by everyone, especially those resistant to the notion that black lives matter.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    A memoir and call for action, in On the Other Side of Freedom Mckesson tells his story of the Ferguson protests, his research into police brutality, his life as a gay black man, and his decision to join politics. I love the content of this book. I would think it would be hard for anyone to refute his evidence about the need for new police guidelines and a rethinking of how we handle crime and deviance in the US, but what I've learned about most of the people who disagree with me on this issue is A memoir and call for action, in On the Other Side of Freedom Mckesson tells his story of the Ferguson protests, his research into police brutality, his life as a gay black man, and his decision to join politics. I love the content of this book. I would think it would be hard for anyone to refute his evidence about the need for new police guidelines and a rethinking of how we handle crime and deviance in the US, but what I've learned about most of the people who disagree with me on this issue is is that they rarely care about research. He also discusses the philosophy of hope vs. faith, and the stories that get told and the ones that are hidden. At times the switches between past and present, research and the personal, was jarring for me. This is a must-read for 2018, and very short. The audiobook was under 5 hours. The author reads it himself, and it's a good listen.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    DeRay's Pod Save the People is appointment-listening for me. I always always get amazing information and news and inspiration from the news team on this weekly podcast. This book really is a longer version of the inspiration pieces that DeRay always starts the pod with. This is in no way a history of the Black Lives Matter movement or even the Ferguson protests. It begins there, but does not dwell on the specific events. Instead, it's more a rumination on the power and purpose of protests and ho DeRay's Pod Save the People is appointment-listening for me. I always always get amazing information and news and inspiration from the news team on this weekly podcast. This book really is a longer version of the inspiration pieces that DeRay always starts the pod with. This is in no way a history of the Black Lives Matter movement or even the Ferguson protests. It begins there, but does not dwell on the specific events. Instead, it's more a rumination on the power and purpose of protests and how to create communities of power and justice and equality. It's a solid collection of essays, with some really thought-provoking bits that I'll copy down and keep thinking about for years to come.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Meghan

    I picked this for a book club because I saw him speak as a guest on the Daily show with Trevor Noah and I thought he was so well-spoken that I knew I wanted to hear more about his thoughts. I’m so glad I listened to this on audio because he narrates it and I prefer listening to a memoir by the author as they knew what they want to emphasize and emote. And the book is as well done as his interview. I found it engaging, enlightening, and moving.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    DeRay!!! I love him and was so excited to finally read this. It's short, but gives you a good look at what he stands for and how to fight against injustice as well as some personal stories so you understand his background. He's inspiring!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    🤯 Read it now 🤯

  19. 4 out of 5

    Andalisa

    DeRay writes with clear passion and direction as he offers an inspiring way forward while reflecting on his roots and the beginning of BLM's work in Ferguson. Highly recommend!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Antoinette Perez

    READ THIS. I'll definitely read it a second time, and probably a third.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bonni

    A breathtaking book. DeRay is able to "zoom in" to stories from his own life and masterfully "zoom out" to present compelling data regarding mass incarceration, gun violence, racial inequality, and more. The last chapter (Letter to an Activist) is worth the price of admission alone. He stresses the importance of African Americans needing to insist that others be able to hold their anger and not expect them to "perform" as if they are happy. He also gives each of us plenty of reasons for hope.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    Should be required reading. Could not put down. So relatable, smart, passionate and true.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Hayley

    I found this to be an inspiring read, though one that I didn't walk away from with a lot of concrete quotes. A good, solid read. I look forward to what else Mckesson has to say.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Caryn

    I listened to DeRay narrate his book on Audible, and I'm so glad I did. The content itself will change my approach to life and to activism. He included countless lessons drawn from not only his own experiences, but those of other activists. His words about choosing not to add pain on top of someone's pain stopped me in my tracks. His caution not to organize in a way that reinforces the power structures that we're working had immediate implications for my activism. I plan to listen to this again I listened to DeRay narrate his book on Audible, and I'm so glad I did. The content itself will change my approach to life and to activism. He included countless lessons drawn from not only his own experiences, but those of other activists. His words about choosing not to add pain on top of someone's pain stopped me in my tracks. His caution not to organize in a way that reinforces the power structures that we're working had immediate implications for my activism. I plan to listen to this again in the future. Even during the first listen, I rewound at several points to really hear DeRay. I'm appreciative to him for writing this book, and I hope he'll write again.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    Recommended for everyone. Mckesson’s vulnerability and eloquence is remarkable. He is a storyteller and an educator. He will provide you data with the means [to begin] to process it. He’ll provide a story with the permission to sit with it, but only for a time. DeRay Mckesson is about the work, “Hope is not magic. Hope is work. Let’s get to the work.” >>for those who are already engaging in social justice, this is one to own. McKesson is inspiring, informative, and real. The lyricism is per Recommended for everyone. Mckesson’s vulnerability and eloquence is remarkable. He is a storyteller and an educator. He will provide you data with the means [to begin] to process it. He’ll provide a story with the permission to sit with it, but only for a time. DeRay Mckesson is about the work, “Hope is not magic. Hope is work. Let’s get to the work.” >>for those who are already engaging in social justice, this is one to own. McKesson is inspiring, informative, and real. The lyricism is perfectly balanced with the pragmatic. He offers insight and good advice. He reminds us of our faith, our hope, our power. >>for those engaged and are looking for more intersectionality: Mckesson is a gay black man and he talks about what that means within the different spaces he moves. “Sometimes, when you don’t see yourself in the world, you start to think that you don’t exist. ” (179) >>for those newer to conversations on race* and/or activism. The first step is always to open yourselves up to listen. DeRay Mckesson has a compelling voice. Read an essay through; on the second or third pass: underline, note-take, or pen questions. >>for those ignorant about protests, or think they do know, but in the quiet know that they aren’t being intellectually honest about that. “We the protesters have never been the voiceless. we have been the unheard. Our storytelling has has been key to our survival, as we have spoken about our pain and our joy, even if we were talking to ourselves.” (23) >>for those fiction-only readers looking to include more non-fiction, Mckesson is an engaging storyteller, even when interpreting data or socio-cultural phenomena. >>for those with religious or spiritual backgrounds. I was moved to think about how Mckesson speaks about Faith and Hope and how my tradition(s) speak about it. I was challenged by the way he talks about churches and activism, the changes, the absences, the refuge, the pastors. I was moved by how Mckesson talks about Storm in “I Was Raised By Magic.” “So much of what trauma does for us is trap us in the present; it traps us in its constraints. we often see the limitations all around us because we need to see them in order to survive. Not to see them would be deadly. We become gifted at knowing how far to push before the world pushes back on us. But Storm? Storm didn’t live in a world with those constraints. And for thirty minutes each weekend, neither did I.” (107) >>for those who love great choices in quotes/epigraphs. >>for my fellow white friends and family. “I had to learn that white people could be wrong,” opens the essay “The Choreography of Whiteness.” We need to learn that, too. “Whiteness is an idea and a choice. we can choose differently. We can introduce new ideas to replace it. We have the tools to build something altogether new.” (102) >>for readers of Brene Brown,** or Austin Channing Brown’s I’m Still Here, Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy. >>for those interested in histories, mythologies, storytelling and narrative gatekeeping. >>for those who’ve been bullied. >>for those who may be despairing. “Make no mistake, our world, our experience, is changing constantly. When we surrender, we leave it to others to define what that change looks like. History has shown us the consequences of inaction. we can and should acknowledge the trauma that we face, but we should not accept it. Indeed, we cannot fight what we do not name, so name it we must, but we can never accept it. We will never get to the other side of freedom if we accept the trauma as a feature and not a flaw of this world.” (28) https://contemplatrix.wordpress.com/2...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Leonard

    In a "soft spoken" type of writing the author tells us his experiences as a black man in the US. This book helped me, as a priviledged white man, to better understand how African Americans and other people of color see the world, and how they are treated by whites, especially law enforcement. Much of the author's report centers around Ferguson, Missouri and the events that place there in 2014. McKesson reminds us of the value of protesting. "Protest is telling the truth in public. Sometimes prot In a "soft spoken" type of writing the author tells us his experiences as a black man in the US. This book helped me, as a priviledged white man, to better understand how African Americans and other people of color see the world, and how they are treated by whites, especially law enforcement. Much of the author's report centers around Ferguson, Missouri and the events that place there in 2014. McKesson reminds us of the value of protesting. "Protest is telling the truth in public. Sometimes protest is telling the truth to a public that isn't quite ready to hear it. Protest is, in its own way, a storytelling. We use our bodies, our words, our art, and our sounds both to tell the truth about the pain that we endure and to demand the justice that we know is possible. It is meant to build community and to force a response" (page 24). The author reminds us that things have not changed much from a hundred years ago. "When Trayvon Martin was killed, we watched in real-time disbelief as the system let his killer go and itself remained relatively unchanged. Florida's Stand Your Ground law became just another way to justify a modern-day lynching" (page 25). McKesson reminds us that standards for whites and people of color differ from the ground up. Dylann Roof, who in June 2015, killed nine African American parishioners at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, was not called a terrorist in the media nor was he charged with terrorism. McKesson writes, "Language is the first act. It distributes and redistributes power. It carries the kernel of the ideas that shape how we think about the world. The dominant culture - that is, white people - suppressed the notion of a white terrorist because it is impossible to conceive of whiteness as evil, a space decidedly reserved for black and brown people" (page 164). There is an abundance of thoughtful wisdom in this fine book. "In its best form, art can be a mirror and a window, helping us to better see ourselves and to imagine new possibilities. But what happens when the mirror returns a reflection that doesn't look like the you that you know yourself to be? Or when the window seemingly isn't meant to be opened in the first place" (Page 180). This a needed book that should be read by all.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    DeRay McKesson’s book “On the Other Side of Freedom” is an amazing dialogue and honest unpacking of the narratives we among the privileged of society have easily dismissed or ignored. I found myself moved and engaged by every single line and note of DeRay’s book. The truth in each point is so unapologetically direct that you can often find yourself uncomfortable. I do not think that discomfort is a bad thing, especially in the face of the case presented. It is an enlightening process to sit with DeRay McKesson’s book “On the Other Side of Freedom” is an amazing dialogue and honest unpacking of the narratives we among the privileged of society have easily dismissed or ignored. I found myself moved and engaged by every single line and note of DeRay’s book. The truth in each point is so unapologetically direct that you can often find yourself uncomfortable. I do not think that discomfort is a bad thing, especially in the face of the case presented. It is an enlightening process to sit with that discomfort and force oneself to do more reflection and wake up. I think it makes oneself act, hopefully resulting in the betterment of oneself and others. None of the truths in the book are new, this a discourse spoken by many. However, the way DeRay roots them in his narrative and his case for hope just makes it sink in a bit more than one might have already absorbed the data. It might be something simple like our shared existence on the orientation spectrum, or perhaps because I am drawn to DeRay’s engagement through his podcast, his protest/movement action and communication, and his ‘voice’ in his book, that I felt like this was an intimate dialogue. I sincerely apologize to DeRay if my embracing of his narrative is presumptuous, derivative, or harmful by assuming more familiarity than I should. Aside from the trust that I find in this book’s narrative, I strongly suggest EVERYONE to read or listen to it because it is extremely necessary for our movement together and forward. DeRay’s way of communicating a point just seems to penetrate whatever barrier we might have over our ‘ears’. Do not come to this book with ego. Come to this book willing to engage and have a truth given to you. Come to this book knowing you have the potential to walk away with something powerful, hope. Hope in its active form, requiring engagement not the passive ideal of faith, something that will make you do something to achieve that hope and have your hands in it. Read this book. Even better, read this book AND listen to this book in audio form. I really really mean it, read this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Karly Grice

    A really informative, important, and powerful book regarding doing the work for justice and equity today. I particularly loved and resonated with the points McKesson made about faith vs hope and his discussion of the role Storm and the X-men played for him. I can’t possible say as well as he can all the reasons I think this is an important must read for humanity and teachers, and there are even chapters I plan to excerpt for my future classes. For teachers (and parents) in particular, there’s on A really informative, important, and powerful book regarding doing the work for justice and equity today. I particularly loved and resonated with the points McKesson made about faith vs hope and his discussion of the role Storm and the X-men played for him. I can’t possible say as well as he can all the reasons I think this is an important must read for humanity and teachers, and there are even chapters I plan to excerpt for my future classes. For teachers (and parents) in particular, there’s one chapter on understanding white supremacy in the 21st through recognizing it as the bully model that I think is very clear and useful for readers. I want to preface my negative critique (next paragraph) by saying I believe everyone should read this. However, the one star off is because I was really disappointed with how he handled the erasure of Black women in the movement, particularly as he’s been the name that so often has replaced them in the public narrative. There was one chapter clearly intended to address this, and it started with a lot of potential. But he did more to gesture towards the grassroots group activism and at no point acknowledged the specific women who worked (and still work) to DO the work all with little positive recognition. His recounting of the Ferguson protests almost makes it seem like they started when he got there, as opposed to the people who’d been doing the work before he showed up. But mostly, I waited until the end of the chapter for him to at least once say the women’s names who were vital to the movement—Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi—But he never did. This really disappointed me. Even though he discussed the respectability politics of why Claudette Colvin and Bayard Rustin were erased from the Civil Rights Movement and how sexism and homophobia played a part in that, he never mentioned by name the black women (some queer) of the Black Lives Matter movement, an erasure that made the whole chapter feel icky and about saving face.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Loretta

    Definitely a 5 star read, one that I would highly recommend to everyone. I'll be honest, I actually liked this a bit more than "Between the World and Me." I think that Mckesson is smart, nuanced, and a really good writer. Some favorite quotes: "Ideological purity is not a political goal. Nevertheless, the desire for it is strong especially among those who know that it is an implausible reality. Politics, the decision-making process that helps to shape the way we interact with our communities and v Definitely a 5 star read, one that I would highly recommend to everyone. I'll be honest, I actually liked this a bit more than "Between the World and Me." I think that Mckesson is smart, nuanced, and a really good writer. Some favorite quotes: "Ideological purity is not a political goal. Nevertheless, the desire for it is strong especially among those who know that it is an implausible reality. Politics, the decision-making process that helps to shape the way we interact with our communities and vice versa, is necessarily one of compromise, as ideas, experiences, and plans regularly come into conflict with one another. To assert that politics is compromise is not to suggest that we should ever compromise our core values. It is to suggest, however, that the process requires that we understand that the people with whom we engage have different experiences and ideas that will influence how they make decisions." Yes! A lot of people talk a big game about never compromising. And when it comes to our core values that's important. But never compromising assures we never accomplish anything. You know who I'm going to listen to when he talks about compromise? A man who put his life on hold to spend 400 days protesting for something he felt was important. On engaging a power structure we are simultaneously working to change: "Those who are unwilling to embrace this tension, who see themselves as taking a "radical" stance, do so at the expense of having a politics that challenges the status quo. A radicalism that at its heart is about dismantling the status quo inn favor of an unimagined "better future" is not in fact radicalism, but actually a cold detachment from reality itself. To be radical implies having an idea in juxtaposition to the dominant one." "It's hard to fight for things you don't understand or for people you don't know. Proximity matters." I'm committing myself to more fully understand the issues about which I choose to speak.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Max Wright

    DeRay Mckesson's highly anticipated memoir takes readers behind the curtain into how he came to hold his beliefs, how he became involved in the Fergusson protests back in 2014, and his reflections on identity. The book's structure (really a collection of essays, not a personal narrative) gives the impression that Mckesson is not fully ready to open himself to the world and be vulnerable. Perhaps Mckesson doesn't want to claim ownership of the Ferguson protests as 'his' movement, which is an incr DeRay Mckesson's highly anticipated memoir takes readers behind the curtain into how he came to hold his beliefs, how he became involved in the Fergusson protests back in 2014, and his reflections on identity. The book's structure (really a collection of essays, not a personal narrative) gives the impression that Mckesson is not fully ready to open himself to the world and be vulnerable. Perhaps Mckesson doesn't want to claim ownership of the Ferguson protests as 'his' movement, which is an incredibly noble gesture; perhaps he wants to remain true to the spirit of organizing, which is about the movement, not about any one particular person or leader (this is essentially the argument of "The Friend Who's Always Awake"). That's not to say that Mckesson shies away from vulnerability at all. "I Can Remember Her Now Without Sadness" and "Out of the Quiet" touch on two deeply personal issues for him: his estranged mother, and his sexuality. "I Was Raised by Magic", a lighthearted essay about his love for Storm of the X-Men, resonated with me a lot. The limiting factor of "On the Other Side of Freedom" is that Mckesson has a lot of stories to share, but he doesn't synthesize them into a single narrative arc. The reader only sees glimpses of Mckesson's life, but the text's structure and content (at times Mckesson feels much more comfortable discussing academic or abstract issues rather than personal ones) seem to put a wedge between him and the reader. "On the Other Side of Freedom" is a satisfying memoir, but it lacks the deeply personal nature of Ta-Nehisi Coates' "Between the World and Me" or Jesmyn Ward's "Men We Reaped". I can't give this book higher than a 3 star rating when I think about how it compares to those other masterfully written texts.

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