T. L. Bunyasi and C. W. Smith, "Stay Woke: A People’s Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter" (NYU Press, 2019)

10.14.2019 - By New Books in Sociology

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Tehama Lopez Bunyasi and Candis Watts Smith have written an accessible and important book about the #BlackLivesMatter social movement and broader considerations of, essentially, how we got to where we are, in the United States, in regard to race and racism. They also go on to suggest and encourage readers and citizens to move towards a more equal and better future.
Stay Woke: A People’s Guide to Making All Black Lives Matter (NYU Press, 2019) compiles social science research and data to explain the current situation for white citizens, African-American citizens, Latinx citizens, and citizens of other races in the United States. By laying out, in facts and figures, the very different experiences and daily lives of citizens, Lopez Bunyasi and Watts Smith demonstrate not only the way many individuals live profoundly separate and different lives in the United States, but also to show the many ways in which we, as Americans, speak past each other when we are talking about the fraught issue of race, racism, and racial inequality. Stay Woke provides substantial social science data to buttress the discussion and analysis of race and racism in the United States, and it also has an excellent chapter that provides definitions, context, and understanding of so many of the terms that are used, and often differently conceptualized, by citizens in thinking about race, inequality, and social and political dynamics. The authors also examine the history around structural racism and racial inequality. At the end of each chapter Lopez Bunyasi and Watts Smith also include other resources that contributed to their research and that extends the substance of each chapter—the resources include podcast, films, documentaries, television shows, websites, books and articles. These resources along with the questions provided for discussion and debate help readers and students think about what they are learning from each section of the book. The final part of the book provides more options for activism while positioning these actions within the American federal system. This book can be used in classes across a variety of disciplines; it is also a text that is accessible and of interest to any citizen who might want to learn more and work towards a better future.
Lilly J. Goren is professor of Political Science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She co-edited the award-winning Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012).
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