A Cry From the Heart: Michael Eric Dyson Addresses Race Head-On

Patrick Phillips in the New York Times:

ScreenHunter_2535 Jan. 24 20.41One Sunday in 1984, my father did something unexpected, at least for a white man in Georgia. He drove us past the little rural church we usually attended and kept going 40 miles south, all the way to Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist — home parish of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and an epicenter of the American civil rights movement.

Reading Michael Eric Dyson’s “Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America,” I was often reminded of that morning, when I was first exposed to the righteous anger, wry humor and unflinching honesty of a black pastor, determined to guide and teach his flock. While Dyson is best known as a writer and sociologist, he is also an ordained Baptist minister, and his new book draws both its impassioned style and its moral urgency from his years in the pulpit.

At a time when one video after another has forced us to acknowledge that unarmed African-Americans are regularly killed by the police, Dyson desperately wants his readers to confront the sources of that violence in our nation’s longstanding culture of white supremacy. But he also knows how many political arguments and sociological studies have fallen on deaf ears. And so rather than a treatise, “Tears We Cannot Stop” is a fiery sermon, and an unabashedly emotional, personal appeal. “What I need to say” to white America, Dyson writes, can only be said in “a plea, a cry, a sermon, from my heart to yours.”

More here.