The Beast Side: Living (and Dying) While Black in America

Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
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A New York Times Best Seller!

To many, the past 8 years under President Obama were meant to usher in a new post-racial American political era, dissolving the divisions of the past. However, when seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot by a wannabe cop in Florida; and then Ferguson, Missouri, happened; and then South Carolina hit the headlines; and then Baltimore blew up, it was hard to find any evidence of a new post-racial order. Suddenly the entire country seemed to be awakened to a stark fact: African American men are in danger in America. This has only become clearer as groups like Black Lives Matter continue to draw attention to this reality daily not only online but also in the streets of our nation’s embattled cities.

Now one of our country’s quintessential urban war zones is brought powerfully to life by a rising young literary talent, D. Watkins. The author fought his way up on the eastside (the “beastside”) of Baltimore, Maryland—or “Bodymore, Murderland,” as his friends call it. He writes openly and unapologetically about what it took to survive life on the streets while the casualties piled up around him, including his own brother. Watkins pushed drugs to pay his way through school, staying one step ahead of murderous business rivals and equally predatory lawmen. When black residents of Baltimore finally decided they had had enough—after the brutal killing of twenty-five-year-old Freddie Gray while in police custody—Watkins was on the streets as the city erupted. He writes about his bleeding city with the razor-sharp insights of someone who bleeds along with it. Here are true dispatches from the other side of America.

In this new paperback edition, the author has also added new material responding to the rising tide of racial resentment and hate embodied by political figures like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, and the impact this has had on issues of race in America. This book is essential reading for anyone trying to make sense of the chaos of our current political moment.
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About the author

D Watkins is a columnist for Salon. His work has been published in the New York Times, the Guardian, and magazines, and he is a frequent commentator on NPR, CNN, and elsewhere. He holds a master’s in education from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Baltimore and teaches writing at Coppin State University in Baltimore. He was the winner of Baltimore magazine’s “Best Writer” award in 2015.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
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Published on
Sep 8, 2015
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Pages
176
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ISBN
9781510703407
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Discrimination & Race Relations
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Race is, and always has been, an explosive issue in the United States. In this timely new book, Tim Wise explores how Barack Obama’s emergence as a political force is taking the race debate to new levels. According to Wise, for many white people, Obama’s rise signifies the end of racism as a pervasive social force; they point to Obama not only as a validation of the American ideology that anyone can make it if they work hard, but also as an example of how institutional barriers against people of color have all but vanished. But is this true? And does a reinforced white belief in color-blind meritocracy potentially make it harder to address ongoing institutional racism? After all, in housing, employment, the justice system, and education, the evidence is clear: white privilege and discrimination against people of color are still operative and actively thwarting opportunities, despite the success of individuals like Obama.

Is black success making it harder for whites to see the problem of racism, thereby further straining race relations, or will it challenge anti-black stereotypes to such an extent that racism will diminish and race relations improve? Will blacks in power continue to be seen as an “exception” in white eyes? Is Obama “acceptable” because he seems “different from most blacks,” who are still viewed too often as the dangerous and inferior “other”?

"From the Civil Rights struggle, to Dr. King's dream, to Barack Obama's election, Tim Wise provides us with an extremely important and timely analysis of the increasing complexity of race on the American political and social landscape. Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama provides an insightful and much needed lens through which we can begin to navigate this current stage in our ongoing quest for a more inclusive definition of who we are as a nation. It's definitely a book for these times!"—Danny Glover

"Tim Wise has looked behind the curtain. In Between Barack and a Hard Place he explores the real issues of race in the Obama campaign and incoming presidency, issues that the mainstream media has chosen to ignore. His book debunks any notion that the United States has entered a post-racial period; instead he identifies the problems that emerge in the context of the victory of a black presidential candidate who chose to run an essentially non-racial campaign. With this book, Wise hits the bull's eye."—Bill Fletcher

"Wise outlines…how racism and white privilege have morphed to fit the modern social landscape. In prose that reads like his lightening rod speeches, he draws from a long list of high-profile campaign examples to define what he calls 'Racism 2.0,' a more insidious form of racism that actually allows for and celebrates the achievements of individual people of color because they're seen as the exceptions, not the rules."—Jamilah King, Colorlines

"This book makes an intriguing argument and is packed with insight. Wise clearly explains the complexity of institutional racism in contemporary society. He continuously reminds the reader that Obama's victory may signal the entrenchment of a more complicated, subtle, and insidious form of racism. The jury is still out."—Jeff Torlina, Multicultural Review

Tim Wise is among the most prominent antiracist writers and activists in the US and has appeared on ABC's 20/20 and MSNBC Live. His previous books include Speaking Treason Fluently and White Like Me.


* Longlisted for the National Book Award * A New York Times Notable Book * A Washington Post Notable Book * An NPR Best Book of 2017 * A Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2017 * An Atlanta Journal-Constitution Best Southern Book of 2017 *

This extraordinary New York Times bestseller reexamines a pivotal event of the civil rights movement—the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till—“and demands that we do the one vital thing we aren’t often enough asked to do with history: learn from it” (The Atlantic).

In 1955, white men in the Mississippi Delta lynched a fourteen-year-old from Chicago named Emmett Till. His murder was part of a wave of white terrorism in the wake of the 1954 Supreme Court decision that declared public school segregation unconstitutional. Only weeks later, Rosa Parks thought about young Emmett as she refused to move to the back of a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Five years later, Black students who called themselves “the Emmett Till generation” launched sit-in campaigns that turned the struggle for civil rights into a mass movement. Till’s lynching became the most notorious hate crime in American history.

But what actually happened to Emmett Till—not the icon of injustice, but the flesh-and-blood boy? Part detective story, part political history, The Blood of Emmett Till “unfolds like a movie” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution), drawing on a wealth of new evidence, including a shocking admission of Till’s innocence from the woman in whose name he was killed. “Jolting and powerful” (The Washington Post), the book “provides fresh insight into the way race has informed and deformed our democratic institutions” (Diane McWhorter, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Carry Me Home) and “calls us to the cause of justice today” (Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the North Carolina NAACP).
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