First Look: Jeff Chang’s New Book, We Gon’ Be Alright
Across America, it’s been a summer of turmoil and division. After shootings in Dallas, Minnesota, and Baton Rouge, protests and violence in Milwaukee, and ceaseless debate, racial tension remains at a boiling point. In his last book, Who We Be, author Jeff Chang examined racial progress in post-civil rights America. In his upcoming collection, We Gon’ Be Alright (out Sept. 13), he “offers six critical essays addressing racial inequality and inequity and how these provocative, multifaceted issues impact virtually every culture” (Kirkus).
We Gon’ Be Alright borrows its title from the chorus of Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” which became the de facto protest song for the Black Lives Matter movement last summer. And like Lamar, Chang sees an America where animosity between black youth and law enforcement has reached near Civil-Rights-Era proportions. In fact, as he notes in the opening paragraphs, more Americans are worried about race relations now than at any time since the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
Across his six essays, Chang moves with fluidity and purpose, from federal housing policies of the 1960s to modern-day Baltimore and Ferguson to the rise of Trumpism. He looks at Hollywood’s overwhelming and troubling whiteness, suburban colorization, and even Beyoncé’s Lemonade. And though the picture might look bleak, Chang argues that cultural change is still within our reach. “Collectively,” writes Kirkus in a starred review, “Chang creates a chain-linked manifesto arguing for an end to racially charged violence and discrimination and urging global open-mindedness to the struggle of the oppressed … A compelling and intellectually thought-provoking exploration of the quagmire of race relations.”
Until you can read the book for yourself, here’s what publisher Picador says about We Gon’ Be Alright:
In these provocative, powerful essays acclaimed writer/journalist Jeff Chang (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, Who We Be) takes an incisive and wide-ranging look at the recent tragedies and widespread protests that have shaken the country. Through deep reporting with key activists and thinkers, passionately personal writing, and distinguished cultural criticism, We Gon’ Be Alright links #BlackLivesMatter to #OscarsSoWhite, Ferguson to Washington D.C., the Great Migration to resurgent nativism. Chang explores the rise and fall of the idea of “diversity,” the roots of student protest, changing ideas about Asian Americanness, and the impact of a century of racial separation in housing. He argues that resegregation is the unexamined condition of our time, the undoing of which is key to moving the nation forward to racial justice and cultural equity.
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