Read What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America by Michael Eric Dyson Online

What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America

A stunning follow up to New York Times bestseller Tears We Cannot Stop, a timely exploration of America's tortured racial politics In 2015 BLM activist Julius Jones confronted Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with an urgent query: What in your heart has changed thats going to change the direction of this country? I dont believe you just change hearts, she protested. I believe you change laws.The fraught conflict between conscience and politics between morality and power in addressing race hardly began with Clinton. An electrifying and traumatic encounter in the sixties crystallized these furious disputes.In 1963 Attorney General Robert Kennedy sought out James Baldwin to explain the rage that threatened to engulf black America. Baldwin brought along some friends, including playwright Lorraine Hansberry, psychologist Kenneth Clark, and a valiant activist, Jerome Smith. It was Smiths relentless, unfiltered fury that set Kennedy on his heels, reducing him to sullen silence.Kennedy walked away from the nearly three-hour meeting angry that the black folk assembled didnt understand politics, and that they werent as easy to talk to as Martin Luther King. But especially that they were more interested in witness than policy. But Kennedys anger quickly gave way to empathy, especially for Smith. I guess if I were in his shoesI might feel differently about this country. Kennedy set about changing policy the meeting having transformed his thinking in fundamental ways.There was more: every big argument about race that persists to this day got a hearing in that room. Smith declaring that hed never fight for his country given its racist tendencies, and Kennedy being appalled at such lack of patriotism, tracks the disdain for black dissent in our own time. His belief that black folk were ungrateful for the Kennedys efforts to make things better shows up in our day as the charge that black folk wallow in the politics of ingratitude and victimhood. The contributions of black queer folk to racial progress still cause a stir. BLM has been accused of harboring a covert queer agenda. The immigrant experience, like that of Kennedy versus the racial experience of Baldwin is a cudgel to excoriate black folk for lacking hustle and ingenuity. The questioning of whether folk who are interracially partnered can authentically communicate black interests persists. And we grapple still with the responsibility of black intellectuals and artists to bring about social change.This book exists at the tense intersection of the conflict between politics and prophecy of whether we embrace political resolution or moral redemption to fix our fractured racial landscape. The future of race and democracy hang in the balance....

Title : What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America
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Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 306 pages
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What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America Reviews

  • Mary Sisney

    Dyson modestly does not present himself as the true heir to James Baldwin (not Ta-Nehisi Coates and certainly not Cornel West), but I believe he is. Like Baldwin, he knows how to eloquently preach to his readers, probably because he is a preacher as Baldwin was before he became a writer. But more effectively than Baldwin he connects politics, literature, and pop culture, using a 1963 meeting between Bobby Kennedy, Baldwin, Harry Belafonte as well as other black artists, intellectuals, and activi ...more

  • Rachel

    I have been wanting to reads this book since I heard Michael Eric Dyson interview on the view. The story centers around a meeting that took place in civil rights era between Bobby Kennedy, James Baldwin, Harry Belafonte, and other well known black activist at the time. Dyson states in his book that RFK changed during this meeting. He had to face up to his own prejudice and hear some hard truths from the black community. The meeting ultimately changed his views on race and elevated his place in h ...more

  • Patrice Hoffman

    What the truth sounds like, and is for me as I sit here and write this review is that I don't know how to review books such as this. Part of me wants to offer a review that strictly focuses on the writing. That (cowardly) part wants to remain neutral in all works that are social hot topics such as politics and race. I don't want to take a side. As reviewer, I feel it's a duty of sorts not to take a side. But another part, a bigger part of me knows I can't be honest and not share my opinions on t ...more

  • Byron

    It's been a minute since we've had a true entry in the Michael Eric Dyson Book o' the Month Club. Yeah, Tears We Can't Stop was probably thrown together over the course of two consecutive weekends, as if it were one of my own books, but it works like gangbusters. It's a much more satisfying read than the kinda disappointing Black Presidency.

    What Truth Sounds Like, on the other hand? Not so much. You learn almost nothing (certainly not anything useful) about the titular meeting between RFK and Ja
    ...more

  • Reading in Black & White

    It’s no secret that I absolutely adore Michael Eric Dyson. I adore that he is unapologetically black at all times without reservation and the love he has has for his people is shining bright in his latest work. There are many highlighted passages and things I’ve learned in What Truth Sounds Like but what I enjoyed most is that Dyson brings other activists & writers to the forefront. I am left with a long list of folks that I will now check out thanks to Dr. Dyson which makes this a book that ...more

  • Michelle

    This was fascinating--I did not know about this meeting at all, and Dyson even draws his discussion forward to current black artists, intellectuals, and even sports stars. All in his trademark beautiful style. I agree with Dyson's conclusion that we need to finish this conversation about race--the hard thing is we have intelligent and eloquent people like Dyson on one side, and Trump And His Tiki Torch Parade on the other. Yeesh.

  • Andre

    There was a meeting in 1963 between Robert F. Kennedy and James Baldwin and a few of Baldwin’s friends. When you think of an example of speaking truth to power, that meeting as described by Dyson here, will indeed standout as definitive.

    Dyson writes “I heard over the years how explosive it was, how it brought together other folk I had admired, including Harry Belafonte. The gathering pitted an earnest if defensive white liberal against a raging phalanx of thinkers, activists, and entertainers w
    ...more

  • Bernadette Dvorscak

    In May 1963, Robert Kennedy met with James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Leno Horne, Harry Belafonte, Kenneth Clark and several others including Jerome Smith, a Freedom Rider, at the Kennedy family apartment in Manhattan. Kennedy wanted their views on the civil rights struggle. His guests spent the next several hours giving their candid and searing accounts. Kennedy's first reaction was anger, but overtime he came to recognize the truth. Dyson relates that meeting and the contributions that enter ...more