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|
|Format Type||:||Kindle Edition|
|Number of Pages||:||306 pages|
|Url Type||:||Home » What » What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America|
What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America Reviews
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
This was such a good reading experience, I don’t know if my review would give it justice. In 1963 General Robert Kennedy reached out to Baldwin to put together a group that might help him to understand the black American experience. This book recounts that meeting & much more. This deep insight into the 1900s and political figures today and of the past was fascinating. He also makes a case for Hilary Clinton that is both complex and insightful.
"Whatever his faults, or limits, Bobby Kennedy was committed to getting into a room and wrestling with the demons of race. Over fifty years later, we find it hard to follow this example, and our failure dooms us to untold suffering."
As we observe the 50th anniversary of the assassination of MLK and RFK, we are still wrestling with the same problems and the same questions. Michael Eric Dyson takes a conversation about race that happened five years before their deaths in 1963. The Baldwin-Kennedy ...more
Click the link for my review. https://browngirlreading.com/2018/06/...
I’m not sure how I feel about this book. It’s nominal premise is based on a little known meeting in late May 1963 between then Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Black intellectuals, activists and entertainers ranging from James Baldwin to Lena Horne to Lorraine Hansberry. It was a stunning collection of prominent Black cultural figures and Kennedy was meeting was to collect suggestions as to the best course the government should take in pursuit of Civil Rights. It did not go well.
As Dyson wr ...more
Unfortunately this was a DNF for me, which is too bad. I had been looking forward to reading this book after I recently read Dyson's "Tears We Cannot Stop," since I've become a big fan of both Baldwin and RFK in the last few years, and was excited to read about this meeting that I've heard a little bit about. But this book wasn't quite what I was expecting, at least up to the part I stopped at (in the middle of "The Artists" chapter).
There was one relatively short chapter on the meeting itself, ...more
I am struggling with what Dr. Dyson's latest work adds to the discourse save a cursory walk through the last 50ish years of our issues of race and some of the inner conversations. It seemed at times as an apologetic treatise for the failures of Obama and how great Hiliary was through a type of posthumous lens of James Baldwin and Bobby Kennedy... while the backstories are fascinating - they are equally as instructive about the willful capitulation of the black democrats to satiate themselves whi ...more
This was an amazing, edifying read - especially to me - a white American who teaches high school African American students; especially to me who is devastated over how trump is denigrating our great country. The foundation of Dyson's book is a meeting between Bobby Kennedy, James (Jimmy) Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Lena Horne, Harry Belafonte, social psychologist Kenneth Clark and perhaps most importantly, Jerome Smith, a Freedom Rider. The "celebrities" deferred to Smith as he had experienced, ...more