Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America

Book Reviews, ReadSoulLit / Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

The inauguration of the newly elected president of America is upon us. Racism has shownimg_3313 to be very alive and well  in the United States, contrary to popular belief. People are all questioning how we could go from President Barak Obama to what was elected on November 7, 2016.  Deep down I think we all know why and aren’t really surprised, but in essence most of us don’t want to admit what the problem really is.  Tears We Cannot Stop : A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson delves profoundly and with precision into the murky racist history America keeps holding on to, as it seems, for dear life.   Do YOU really want to know what the problem is? Or, do you prefer to keep pretending you don’t see color and that racism doesn’t exist?

Dyson opens Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America showing the reader that we are all different, living and seeing the world from our own points of view.  However similar that is, black people’s experiences are being minimized and ignored.   The realization that black people are still viewed today as inferior and the struggle for white people to acknowledge their white privilege are only two of the many problems Dyson analyzes in Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America.  Dyson chose to structure this novel to resemble a church service, henceforth giving the book a very heart-felt, sincere tone.  Instead of being separated into simple numbered chapters, they are each labeled with a part of a full church service, Chapter I. Call to Worship, Chapter II. Hymns of Praise, Chapter III.  Invocation,  Chapter IV. Scripture Reading, Chapter V. Sermon, VI. Benediction, VII. Offering Plate, and finally VIII. Closing Prayer.

Written in only 188 pages, Dyson incisively takes “beloved” (white people) through the 360° lesson on race and understanding it from a black person’s point of view.  He leaves no stone unturned.  He demystifies whiteness in exactitude and with unflinching truth.  Yes it’s uncomfortable, which he states right from the beginning, but it’s necessary.  Dyson utilizes pop culture, expressions, lyrics, tv shows, famous people, and most of all real examples from his own life.  He uses all of this to demonstrate white America’s inability  to accept their part in racism still exiting so strongly today.  Despite sounding negative, Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America is not all gloom and doom.

I don’t want to give anything more away, but EVERYONE white, black, hispanic, asian, or other NEEDS to read this book, as well as those of you who aren’t American but want to understand America’s race struggle better.  Dyson’s writing is truthful and informative, while being equally interesting.  It will be hard to avoid understanding some of the problems of racism in America today, after reading this book.  Those who read it won’t have any excuses.  This book isn’t a cry for help or a plea for pity, it’s a demand for REAL respect, understanding, and action.

You may not know who Michael Eric Dyson is but every black American does and you should too.  He is an author, radio host, and professor of Sociology.  He teaches Sociology at Georgetown University.  He became an ordained Baptist minister at 19.  He’s obtained various degrees from Knoxville College, Carson-Newman College, and Princeton University. Dyson definitely has his finger on the pulse of America’s race problem because  he’s written many books discussing race and related topics, such as Why I Love Black WomenKnow What I Mean? Reflections On Hip Hop,   Debating Race: with Michael Eric DysonHoller If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur, among many others and Tears  We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America  is his nineteenth.

*I was sent this book for an honest review from St. Martin’s Press.

Tears We Cannot Stop A Sermon to White America, 188 pages  – St. Martin’s Press

My rating: 5 stars

Recommended to: Readers interested in reading about race relations in the United States

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27 Replies to “Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America”

  1. I enjoy the conversation provoked by Prof. Dyson. I am sure that the enlightened will probably reach for this publication first, but to become educated with regard to race issues is one the issues he explores.

  2. This poison has been ignored too long in our country. The complacency of white America has got to be shaken (and I think many of us finally are beginning to see that, to our shame that it took such a drastic event to do it). This sounds like a good place to start.

  3. I finally got my slow butt over her to check our your review of this book. Wow. I am embarrassed to say that I have never heard of this man/author. This is why I am always preaching about the value of Booktube and Bookblogs. In the time it took me to listen to your Booktube review and read this wonderful review, I have been exposed to someone new to explore in my reading journey. I can’t believe I haven’t heard of him and this is his 19th book but moving on, I will rectify that. I just put this book on hold (trying to curb my buying this year too) at the library so I should receive it mid-February. I like reading books like this to help me learn but to help me articulate important information when I get into those discussions with my white friends. Sometimes my emotions tie my tongue but the more I read, I am better able to spread knowledge. Thanks for also including the video. Have a blessed day and thank you for taking the time to write a lovely and informative review without spoilers!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to come over and read the review. I sincerely appreciate it. I’m sure you’ll find it a well written and truthful recount on what’s wrong with America. Sadly I’m not really sure how we’re ever going to turn this mess around.

  4. I’ve ALWAYS understood why Blacks were/are angry. I, additionally feel adamantly that I would feel the same, if I were a Black, and would find it excruciatingly difficult to get over the my rage.
    My mother and her mother delivered their point of view through the sympathy they expressed about Blacks’ plight and the undeniable wrongness of racism!

    1. Send me an email and tell me what your book is about. I don’t particularly like reading romance and urban lit. I’m pretty full up at the moment so don’t know when I could review it.

  5. This has been on my wish list since I first heard about it, but I wasn’t sure how well the sermon format would work – I’m so glad to hear you highly recommend it. I’m moving it up the wish list now!

  6. Goodreads led me to your blog, and I love it. I have already read this book but really love your reviews and suggestions.

  7. […] “I’m no longer engaging with white people on the topic of race.  Not all white people, just the vast majority who refuse to accept the legitimacy of structural racism and its symptoms.  I can no longer engage with the gulf of an emotional disconnect that white people display when a person of colour articulates their experience.  You can see their eyes shut down and harden.  It’s like treacle is poured into their ears, blocking up their ear canals.  It’s like they can no longer hear us.” (Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, p. ix) White people not being interested in hearing about race problems was very similar to what Michael Eric Dyson described in Tears We Cannot Cry:  A Sermon to White America. […]

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