Things That Make White People Uncomfortable

Michael Bennett and Dave Zirin. Haymarket, $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-60846-893-5
Like athletes-turned-authors Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the late Arthur Ashe, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Bennett uses his professional fame to shed light on American racism in these astute personal essays. Cowritten by Zirin (Brazil’s Dance with the Devil), the book begins at the 2017 NFL preseason opener, where Bennett took a knee during the national anthem. He defends his decision to kneel in support of his friend, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the practice to protest racist police violence. Bennett recounts experiencing that brutality firsthand when police officers in Las Vegas pinned him to the ground and held a gun to his head. “I know what it’s like to be treated like an animal... because of my race. I was guilty until proven innocent,” he writes. Over the course of these essays, Bennett condemns the way NFL players are prodded, evaluated, and inspected, which he compares to “slave auctions,” where they feel like “property”; expounds on the importance of Black Lives Matter; and issues an heartfelt apology for his use of the N-word in his youth, saying that at the time he didn’t understand the word’s “magnitude and its power to dehumanize black people.” He also shares personal stories of growing up in deeply prejudiced Louisiana, moving to San Diego with his family and witnessing gang violence there, and finding a welcoming community of “so many different types of people” in Houston. Equal parts memoir and manifesto, Bennett’s book proves he can tackle the ills of society as capably as he tackles quarterbacks. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/26/2018
Release date: 04/01/2018
Compact Disc - 978-1-68441-044-6
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