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

Don Lemon. Little, Brown, $28 (224p) ISBN 978-0-316-25757-2
CNN host Lemon (Transparent) ruminates in this lyrical yet diffuse account on the legacy of white supremacy in America. Emulating James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, Lemon opens with a letter to his 13-year-old nephew, recounting how his own grandmother, who had a fifth-grade education, had to submit to a literacy test in order to vote in Louisiana. From there, Lemon reflects on the founding of an African American enclave in Sag Harbor in 1947, describes how the election of Donald Trump (“a blatant White supremacist”) made the problem of racism “impossible to ignore,” and recounts his family’s grief in the wake of his sister’s accidental death in 2018. He also traces the roots of modern policing to pre–Civil War slave patrols and shares insights from historians and political analysts about the Lost Cause mythology and Jim Crow–era racial segregation. Lemon folds in noteworthy interviews from his TV show and startling statistics about Black mortality and incarceration rates into his personal reflections, but he meanders across well-trod ground, losing some of the thrust of his arguments. Readers will savor the well-honed language, but wish for stronger substance. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/29/2021
Release date: 03/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-0844-0
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-0-316-27352-7
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-316-25767-1
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