They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement
Share This Story. About the author Monique Judge. I said what I said. Twitter Posts. Gizmodo Earther. Share Tweet. Lowery collected hundreds of interviews for this book, and he recounts his visits to many cities to cover shootings. But his book never reads like a data dump. It has a warm, human tone. In part this is because he is open about his reporting process; we get to see how the sausage is made. He tells us about his mistakes, and he issues mea culpas.
Lowery introduces his readers to a new generation of black activists and reporters. He offers small profiles of these men and women, not all of them glowing. He confidently deals out small, intense set pieces. So some of the notes are old and may not make sense anymore. So some of the information from certain events may be missing.
That doesn't mean you can't do a little research, some tidying up, editing, and rearranging to form a cohesive story instead of jumping around from one shooting to the next and then back again, introducing main players and then reintroducing them again later on. That's messy and it detracted from the overarching story. I'd also mentioned the shoddy writing. From poor sentence structure to lazy description - On August 13, , Templeton sat in an empty bedroom with a loaded gun in one hand, tears streaming beneath the cold barrel pressed to her forehead.
No, there are no tears pouring down from underneath the gun barrel on her forehead as she sits on the floor - to lack of clarity - On the day of Michael Brown's funeral, the feature on his life on the front page of the New York Times included the declaration that Brown was "no angel. Thanks to Michael and Tanya having the same last name, it sounds like Tanya is talking about her son, Michael, even though Michael's mother is Lezley McSpadden. This leaves the reader to wonder who in hell Brandon Brown is, then. Don't worry, it's cleared up in another paragraph.
Tanya Brown's non-angel son is Brandon Jones. Could those sentences not have been better constructed to be more concise? Ok, yes, also because of the subject matter but that should have been the only reason reading this was difficult. There shouldn't have been a language barrier. I wonder if one of the prominent female activists would be able to tell this story better or perhaps the mothers of the murdered.
They did well at the DNC last year, I'll bet they could put together a book that gives more insight to unarmed black people being assaulted, shot, and killed at an alarming rate in this country. This is an important addition to the discussion of racial inequity that is partially happening, partially because it seems it's being ignored by a large, white segment of the population, throughout the country. However, this piece is too sensational to feel unbiased and it's too poorly written to give a professional perspective. I did learn a lot about young, black activists so that's pretty cool, but all in all, I didn't get what I'd wanted from this reporter's-eye-view on a critical national issue.
I'm going to keep looking for books that do this subject justice. Oct 16, Tonstant Weader rated it really liked it Shelves: activism. Journalists try not to become part of the stories they cover. Lowery gives us a look inside the organizing in response to the grim history of deaths at the hands of police. He sat in meetings, interviewed activists and got to know them and this is the most interesting part of his book.
His focus is less on their killings and more on the civic response, the activist uprising that has energized and shifted the focus of civil rights activism, and the generational changing of the guard. With passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, the focus of black activism was on consolidating the gains of the Civil Rights movement, electing more black people to office, promoting education and career advancement. It was not about revolution, but about working to get ahead within the system. Throughout that time, unarmed black men were killed by police with impunity, but their deaths were seldom noted.
Video changed that. The first incident was the assault on Rodney King.
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It is video and social media that has given life to this new movement. Now the killing of unarmed men is not an inside story in a local paper, but tweeted and posted to a national audience, hashtagged and memorialized. Videos provide documentation of police culpability and dishonest, most notably in the killing of Walter Scott when the video captured the police officer planting evidence and refuted the false statements provided by the officers on the scene.
Like many people, he sees all of these deaths as part of a whole, the violent devaluation of black lives in a system of white supremacy. This is a valuable contribution to understanding the new movement for racial justice. We are introduced to the leaders of this new movement and learn how they were mobilized and inspired to activism and leadership.
AMC Greenlights Series Adaptation of Racial Justice Movement Chronicle 'They Can't Kill Us All'
This is a book for activists and those who are interested and supportive of the racial justice movement to safeguard black lives. However, if those who really need to read would actually crack the cover and read it, they would be surprised and perhaps persuaded. Lowery writes like the reporter he is, tamping down his outrage, instead providing text and context for the the movement in a matter of fact tone that in the end, could be more persuasive than outrage.
If only people would read it. I was provided an e-galley by NetGalley. View all 3 comments. This book should be listed on essential reading lists. Lowery discusses the killing of Michael Brown and other unarmed African-Americans who died at the hands of police. Lowery is a journalist who covered the situation in Ferguson and Baltimore and through a journalistic lens, he examines the need for the Black Lives Matter movement.
It's a powerful and important book.
I live in a few counties away from St. Louis and the reputation of the police dept racist actions have always been known to everyone in all the surrounding counties. All the major family activities are in St. Louis such as museums, zoos, and such so everyone, white or black are careful. But if you are of color or different: wear dreadlocks, different clothes, So when the Ferguson riots happened, no one was surprised at uproar.
No one was surprised that the cop was not convicted. This book tells of this reporter's story and of others as he comes to Ferguson, is arrested after only two days while sitting in McDonalds with other journalist as they are taking notes and getting coffee, blocks away from the action. He goes on to describe what he sees, what it was like, what his fellow journalist encounter, the mood, the history, and so much more. A very good, well thought out book. He worked at the Washington Post at the time. He was young, black and a target just for being in Ferguson. Picked up this book to understand more about the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests held in the U.
It's an incredibly insightful read for me. A lot of times I found myself unable to read more than a chapter a day because of how heavy the topic is and the number of police killings is just horrifying. If reading about it is getting me down, I can't imagine what those who were directly affected by the killings are going through.
Here is one of the paragraphs from this book I highlighted;. Here is one of the paragraphs from this book I highlighted; The protests were an assertion of their humanity and a demand for a system of policing and justice that was transparent, equitable, and fair. Aug 16, Esther braveliteraryworld rated it it was amazing Shelves: nonfiction , poc.
LIKES: - the idea of citizen reporters, especially with the rise of social media, is so compelling. It's impressive how he struck a balance between urgency and raving. It seems so physically and emotionally draining. What I wanted: a look at why did BlackLivesMatter emerge when it did. Was a movement such as this always in our future? What does BLM stand for? What does it seek to do? Basically a book about the movement as a whole in our history.
What I got: a journalist recounting cases that dealt with racial inequality. In the end, you can either read this book or pay attention to the news. Jan 01, Walter rated it it was amazing. This enthralling account of the deaths of so many virtually exclusively unarmed Black men and women at the hands of police and the development of the Movement for Black Lives that has sprung from it is a major contribution to our ability to contextualize and then actualize a constructive and effective response to a major societal challenge.
And Wesley Lowery is a gifted narrative writer whose prose is as evocative as it is lyrically beautiful, so much so that there are moments when I had Wow! And Wesley Lowery is a gifted narrative writer whose prose is as evocative as it is lyrically beautiful, so much so that there are moments when I had to put this book down to reflect on something that I'd just read, the contrast of the situation and its description being too much to process in the moment.
A harrowing, often trying story to be told that is regularly exquisite in the telling This is a book first and foremost about the tragic deaths-by-police experienced in the African-American community that have occurred in this country over the past couple of years. Accordingly, the subject matter is challenging. In fact, I would say that the author's gifts keep it palatable for the vast majority of the book, but after the stories of Ferguson and then Cleveland and then Baltimore and then Charleston the topic tires and depresses in the sense of wearing on one's humanity as it did on the author's.
By the time Mr. Lowery arrives at the concluding story about the protests at the University of Missouri, the reader is almost numb and, objectively, I think that this is the least compelling part of the book. If I have a criticism to offer, it's that this final story is not as effective, both because the point has been so well established by then and because its significance seems to be of a lesser order than that which precedes it.
This is really a story about the victims and those affected by their deaths, from their family and friends to their neighbors who've been so traumatized by these tragedies that they've felt compelled to act. As numerous protesters note, the reality that it could've been them - that, just because of their Blackness, their being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong police officers could've proven fatal - forces their empathy to play out as a passionate commitment to an active response To put a finer point on it, Ferguson isn't just about Michael Brown, even though his death sparked the upheaval that followed.
It's also - and perhaps more - about the way that the local police and the town government have preyed on their African-American citizens for years and about how young Mr. Brown's death was the last straw. There is an appreciable amount of the history of BLM here, but less than that of the individual incidents themselves that called it into existence. Some of its founders and sustainers are met and profiled nicely, but the most meaningful inner workings of the group are either not reported or not reported extensively or Mr.
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Lowery was not privy to them. So, we meet the people perhaps more than the movement itself, which is still an important contribution and service. But I would be remiss if I didn't share a tidbit or two of the compellingly crafted narrative in this book, which is such a page-turner that I read it in slightly more than 24 hours. It was hard to pick up It speaks the truth to power.
The only question is whether we will hear and head its message In this spirit, as he ruminates about his responsibilities as a professional while struggling not to lose touch with the in humanity of these tragedies, reflecting on the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, Mr. Lowery writes: "A journalist's portrait of the deceased is often used by the casual reader to decide if the tragic outcome that befell him or her could have happened to us, or, as is often implied to be the case in those killed by police officers, if this tragic fate was reserved for someone innately criminal who behaved in a way we never would.
We fall into the fallacy of believing we can litigate the complicated story before us into a black-and-white binary of good guys and bad guys. There are no isolated incidents, yet the media's focus on the victim and the officer inadvertently erases the context of the nation's history as it relates to race, policing, and training for law enforcement. And by focusing on the character of the victim, we inadvertently take the focus off the powerful and instead train our eyes and judgment on the powerless.
In those early days, the national media litigated Mike Brown, rather than litigating the shooting. We placed the burden of proof on the dead teenager, not the officer who had shot and killed him.
They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson Baltimore and a New Era in Ame…
A shortsighted framing, divorced from historical context, led us to litigate and relitigate each specific detail of the shooting without fully grasping the groundswell of pain and frustration fuming from the pores of the people of Ferguson - which also left us blindsided by what was to come. I strongly urge everyone to read it to become better informed about an undercurrent in our society that will continue to assert itself painfully if we continue largely to ignore it. And especially if you're inclined to juxtapose All Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter the moment you hear Black Lives Matter, this will certainly help you to understand why doing so is so disrespectful and demeaning to those trying to get you to understand BLM in its proper context.
These tragedies will continue if we don't change our behavior and thus the structure of our society , so this is not a particularly partisan or political situation, and it's certainly not binary: BLM is not an either-or opportunity but a both-and one Dec 09, Brian Hickey rated it really liked it. Because of this, we've been blessed with some of the best pieces of writing around the subject of social justice. Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow is widely considered as a tour de force and the best explanation of the US's mass incarceration of young black men.
Yaa Gyasi's phenomenal blacklivesmatter - 'It's a modern iteration of a struggle that has existed for hundreds of years. Somewhat of an addendum to Coate's masterpiece, TCKUA delves into the 'new era in America's racial justice movement', examining why we are on the brink of a new civil rights movement and more so, how this social phenomenon transpired chronologically. It is also the best explanation as to why the black lives matter movement is valid, offering a brilliant counter punch to the commonly mistaken 'all lives matter' argument and comparison.
Because it is written through the lens of an experienced journalist, the book exudes a refreshing perspective that is written objectively. Though it is evident that Lowery is passionate about the subject matter, he maintains an amazing sense of neutrality throughout the book, offering the reader a fact based account of the staggering number of unarmed black men killed by police officers across the nation including the public reactions that ensued. From Ferguson to Baltimore to Dallas, Lowery documents the very beginnings of the blacklivesmatter movement by interviewing a plethora of its key players.
For anyone curious about the movement's foundation, intent, goals, or validity, Lowery provides the proper context to answer all of these queries via his exhaustive investigative reporting. Though there are a number of issues explored throughout They Can't Kill Us All making it incredibly difficult to put down , the book's true prowess comes through via the passion and transformation of its many key activists. As fierce as Lowery's prose is, it's the vernacular, experience and reasoning of the book's characters that truly steal the show making it not only an informative read, but a deeply empathic and emotional one at that.
As countless black men and women die from the bullets of police officers who even if they are charged with an offence, rarely become accountable to their crimes , Lowery points out the fact that not only do many African-Americans feel like they've been denied the American dream, they also face a vastly different challenge.. The protests were an assertion of their humanity and a demand for a system of policing and justice that was transparent, equitable, and fair.. For too long, many of the activists declared, black bodies had been extinguished by police officers without public accountability or explanation.
For all the stories of police abuse, brutality, and impunity that had been shared at black dinner tables, barbershops, and bar stools for generations these basic facts were ignored or unacknowledged by the nation at large. It provides a deep sense of connection, commonality, and community through the dialect of its many interviews and soliloquies. It highlights why our ability to gather and protest should be protected and more so, why we even do it at all.. Like many of the phenomenal pieces of writing about social change written in the last couple of years, I flew through this and took notes as I read due to the sheer volume of pertinent information related to Lowery's exceptional investigative journalism skills.
Like all great pieces of historical nonfiction, you'll want to recommend this book to everyone, not only because of how important it is but more so, because of the way it made you feel. As a huge fan of Lowery and this juggernaut of a book, I do hope that the right people stumble across its message. Jun 04, David Anderson rated it really liked it. My attention was drawn to this book by the excellent review in The Nation, "Origins of a Movement" by Nathalie Baptiste.
Well worth reading, I provide a link to it online below in lieu of a personal review. But I do want to make a couple of comments about what this book is NOT, as well as what it is, because of some of the comments I've seen in the few middling-to-negative reviews I've seen here on Goodreads and a few of the more exuberant positive ones. This book does not provide a deeply researched historical analysis that connects the Black Lives Matter movement to the centuries-old and ongoing struggle for racial justice. Nor does it describe this movement with an eye towards charting a course forward or providing insights into movement building, although it does provide recent historical information that might prove useful in doing that.
What this book DOES is place this recent history in the context of the decades-old and ongoing problem of racially biased policing and racialized police violence, provide a narrative based in on-the-ground reporting of the flowering of this new stage in the movement, and provide excellent profiles of some of this new generation movement leaders and detail the events and emotions that helped spur them into action and inspired them to become organizers. These things it does quite well.
Because of the book's origin in Lowery's reporting notes over the months covering these events, which he reworked for publication, it is repetitious at times, but that is the only major flaw in my opinion. Plus, since the prose style is that employed in newspaper and magazine reporting, it is a quick read.
I highly recommend this as an introduction to the fight against police abuse for anyone wishing to get a better understanding of Black Lives Matter who may not have made a point of closely following these developments as they were unfolding and as a gripping recounting of this recent history and some of the players in it that will be enjoyed by those who have been paying attention as well.
This book contains interviews with the families of victims of police brutality, which were heartbreaking to read, as well as interviews with local activists who are currently working to stop the violence. It is definitely an emotionally-driven read with personal accounts that prove difficult to take in at times, but it is certainly an important topic that deserves discussion. I would like to do some more research into this topic and into the work of Wesley Lowery and maybe come back to reviewing this book more fully. Apr 22, Jordan Shirkman rated it really liked it. First, an acknowledgment: I know Wes from our time at Ohio University together and have a huge amount of respect for him personally.
His achievements as guy in his mid twenties is shocking. But this isn't a glowing review just because of that.
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Wes feels like the perfect person to tell this story. He's been entwined in this movement professionally and personally since Ferguson and can share insights as a black man growing up in America. He connects the dots from heartbreaking death to death, prot First, an acknowledgment: I know Wes from our time at Ohio University together and have a huge amount of respect for him personally. He connects the dots from heartbreaking death to death, protest to protest, all across the country by telling personal stories of victims and protest organizers.
This is a book we'll look back on as a passionate, fair, and honest look at the beginnings of the Black Lives Matter movement as well as a nation's response to the need for racial reconciliation in the 21st century. Wes tells the story from a humble perspective, acknowledging his own missteps and his challenge in balancing a change he believes needs to happen without being unfairly biased.
There were times I had goosebumps as he told this story. I appreciate Wes and this book. No matter where you stand on the issue of policing in America, "They Can't Kill Us All" is worth reading so that the names of victims aren't just hashtags, but lives that do truly matter. Jan 16, Caris Adel rated it really liked it Shelves: Really good overview of the last couple of years. Mar 17, Joseph Stieb rated it liked it.