This Is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends about Racism

Little, Brown. Mar. 2021. 224p. ISBN 9780316257572. $28. POLI SCI
Journalist Lemon (CNN Tonight with Don Lemon) candidly reflects on history and the major events of 2020, beginning with a heartfelt letter to his nephew in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, describing progress and pitfalls in racial equity since Jim Crow. He argues that readers need to do something, however small, to combat racism and white supremacy in the United States. In order to inspire action, Lemon briefly describes historic events, as well as key stories he covered in 2020, like the COVID-19 pandemic and protests in response to racial injustice. He also provides thoughts and analysis on topics such as police brutality, death, segregation, and reparations. Lemon discusses anecdotes from his own life, including a trip to Ghana with his mother to discover their ancestry, and the tragic death of his sister Leisa. Throughout, he emphasizes empathy and the need for readers to value fellow humans despite their differences. Lemon ends by declaring that we are all capable of doing the work necessary to combat white supremacy.
VERDICT A thoughtful analysis which deserves a place on readers’ anti-racist reading lists. Recommended for those interested in trying to enact systemic change.
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