POLITICAL SCIENCE

The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart

One World. Oct. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780525509684. $27. POL SCI
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Garza (cocreator, Black Lives Matter) explores power dynamics in community organizing, as she believes that power enables social movements to impact conditions of people’s lives. In the first half of the book, she relates her own experiences organizing social movements, while providing background on the political climate of the 1980s and 1990s in order to orient readers and to emphasize the importance of organizing work. She elaborates on the circumstances that drove her to cocreate Black Lives Matter with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi after the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin the year before. In the second half of the book, Garza interrogates social movements, using her own experiences as an example. She provides a vision of successful movements, elaborates on the challenges of organizing, and explores biases and blind spots that can befall movements. She is critical of exclusionary practices and movements which equate success with social media followers. Garza ends with an explanation of Black Futures Lab, which aims to organize the Black community for political power.
VERDICT An important look into community organizing that is honest about its pitfalls and promises that will engage all interested in leading and growing social movements.

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