Jeremiads have a long tradition in American lit. From the Puritan sermons railing against the turning back to Europe for guidance in the wilderness to Jonathan Edwards worrying about the materialist worldview to Martin Luther King derided fellow clergy for imploring him to have patience. The heart of a Jeremiad is a desire to take those in your fold and remind them of what’s right.
Maybe that’s what has been needed among the many many discussions of how the 2016 election happened. This book seeks to pull people into the light and understand in no uncertain terms the stakes. In addition, there’s some clear advice of what a well-meaning white person can do when they feel uncertain or uneasy on how to act. Dyson’s main point is own it, don’t exaggerate the request, and then educate yourself. He even gives a list of books to read. And hey, it includes white people!
He specifically calls out white people on their bullshit but eases into for those people feel like frustrated or self-conscious allies.
Over all, this feels like a necessary kind of book. Maybe it won’t reach all the right hands, but it has real articulation and history behind the importance of what is being said. It’s coming from a place of mutual benefit. It has a game plan and a set of actions, and it has several access points.
OK, so the part that made me laugh. I was listening to the audiobook, read by Dyson, who you have definitely seen on tv before. He’s got a tv voice, a preacher’s voice. He’s loud; he’s funny.
He is reading out some of the truly horrible hatemail he’s gotten in recent years and he gives each writer a different epithet. “One writer says…” “One commenter wrote….”
And the one that got me: “One pen pal wrote…..” followed by vileness.