The book: In the wake of the police killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, scholar Michael Eric Dyson *93 penned a widely shared New York Times op-ed called “Death in Black and White.” Written in blunt but heartfelt terms, Dyson issued a condemnation of American race relations and warned of the potentially dire consequences in store for the nation if nothing is done. In Tears We Cannot Stop (St. Martin’s Press) Dyson, who is also a preacher, continues in that vein, offering a series of sermons meant for a white audience. Dyson speaks of the many struggles facing the black community today and casts realistic scenarios where change can be realized. Often compared by reviewers to James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, Dyson’s Tears cuts to the heart of the racial crisis in America.

The author: Michael Eric Dyson *93 is a professor of sociology at Georgetown University. He is also a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times and a contributing editor of The New Republic and ESPN’s The Undefeated. Dyson has authored or edited 18 books on subjects such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Marvin Gaye, Nas’s debut album Illmatic, Bill Cosby, Tupac Shakur, and Hurricane Katrina.

Opening paragraph: “America is in trouble, and a lot of that trouble — perhaps most of it — has to do with race. Everywhere we turn, there is discord and division, death and destruction. When we survey the land, we see a country full of suffering that we cannot fully understand and a history that we can no longer deny. Slavery casts a long shadow across our lives. The spoils we reaped from forcing people to work without wages and treating them with grievous inhumanity continue to haunt us in a racial gulf that seems impossible to overcome. Black and white people don’t merely have different experiences; we seem to occupy different universes, with worldviews that are fatally opposed to one another. The merchants of racial despair easily peddle their wares in a marketplace riddled by white panic and fear. Black despair piles up with each body that gets snuffed on video and streamed on social media. We have, in the span of a few years, elected the nation’s first black president and placed in the Oval Office the scariest racial demagogue in a generation. The two may not be unrelated. The remarkable progress we seemed to have made with the former has brought out the peril of the latter.”

Reviews: Toni Morrison says: “Elegantly written, powerful … moving personal recollections; profound cultural analysis; and guidance for moral redemption. A work to relish.”

Kirkus says: “The provocateur-scholar returns to the pulpit to deliver a hard-hitting sermon on the racial divide, directed specifically to a white congregation."