When the Stars Begin to Fall: Overcoming Racism and Renewing the Promise of America

Theodore R. Johnson. Atlantic Monthly, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8021-5785-0
Former U.S. Navy commander Johnson debuts with a passionate and persuasive exhortation to build a “multiracial national solidarity to confront the race problem [in America] head-on.” Arguing that racism has been an existential threat to the U.S. since its inception, Johnson discusses how the founders’ decision to leave disagreements over the issue of slavery unresolved set the stage for national traumas including the Civil War, the “racial terrorism and rampant violence against black citizens” of the post-Reconstruction era, and the police killing of George Floyd. Johnson interweaves personal anecdotes and profiles of historical figures into his discussion, recalling, for instance, how Jehu Grant fled enslavement and joined the Continental Army in 1777, but was later denied a military pension because he was a “fugitive” at the time of his service. The best way to counter systemic racism, Johnson contends, is through political action steeped in “civil religion,” or a belief in the supremacy of American ideals over differences in race, class, and ethnicity. His suggestions for fostering such a solidarity include a national service program and improved civic education. Heartfelt and vividly written, this is a salient call for America to finally live up to its promise. Agent: Gail Ross, the Ross Yoon Agency. (June)
Reviewed on : 03/17/2021
Release date: 06/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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