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On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope
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On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  599 ratings  ·  92 reviews
"On the Other Side of Freedom reveals the mind and motivations of a young man who has risen to the fore of millennial activism through study, discipline, and conviction. His belief in a world that can be made better, one act at a time, powers his narratives and opens up a view on the costs, consequences, and rewards of leading a movement."--Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

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Hardcover, 212 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by Viking
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chantel nouseforaname
You have to appreciate what DeRay has contributed to the culture.

An idea that he discusses is that sometimes, a lot of the time, people just need someone to point their "founder" label at to make sense of shit that happens in the world. They need to label someone "founder of a movement" to either point their hate at or point their love at and he's been, a lot of the time, the focal point of that sort of attention; whether or not he wanted it.

Then there's this kind of underlying conversation or
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: august-2018
This book is part memoir and part discussion of racial issues that affect the US. DeRay McKesson relates life experiences while also making you think how society is set up. This book is a must read.

I was provided a copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Joshunda Sanders
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How can you not know about Deray and his everpresent blue vest? This beautiful memoir has some lovely additional details about it, of course, but what is most resonant is additional information about his connection to his family, how he came to be engaged in Ferguson and the larger Movement for Black Lives and his uniquely graceful, eloquent description of moving from being quiet about his sexuality to speaking up, along with the heart-tugging beauty of his relationship with his birth mother and ...more
Nadine Bergeron
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it

On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope is a meditation on resistance, justice, freedom, and a call to arms because standing idly by doesn’t cut it anymore. Making your voice heard among the voices that wish to silence you is as important as ever because everything that’s been fought for and won is now under attack. McKesson started a podcast awhile back with a monologue that resonated with me about protecting the win. It’s no longer not enough just to win. You have to then continue figh
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Once in awhile I want to give a book six stars, this is one of them. DeRay Mckesson writes beautifully and intelligently about his life, about St Louis, about the structure of America's police forces, and about politics. I am sad that this young man did not get elected mayor of our city! I remember reading or hearing somewhere in the run-up to the primary that he was the candidate with the most clearly articulated and thought out platform, and that was enough for me. I have already pulled my fav ...more
Debbie Notkin
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am a huge fan of POD SAVE THE PEOPLE, a podcast hosted by DeRay (who makes his listeners feel like we should use his first name) so I came to this with a positive spin ... and I was not at all disappointed.

This book is mostly about how he came to activism, as a result of Mike Brown's murder-by-police in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, contexted by many other things that are important in his life, which include his childhood, his homosexuality, his relationship with the mother who left when he was
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a really beautiful and personal book.

I especially appreciated the inclusion and naming of people who could easily be forgotten, generally for some reason that makes them easy to marginalize: gay, a woman, a pregnant teenager. Those constraints put on acceptance constrain the fight for freedom.

One of those was Marcus Anthony Hunter, who first used #blacklivesmatter in the context of "black migration and movement is the defining characteristic of growth in cities and always has been". The
Kent Winward
Oct 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Nothing bad here, but not a lot that stands out. Nothing quite like Ta nehisi Coates or Cornell West.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
So much power in these pages, but can I also say that this is the single greatest opening line of an essay?: "It wasn't that I didn't believe in god, but that I believed in Storm from the X-Men more." <3!
Susie Dumond
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
DeRay Mckesson is a powerful advocate who has become one of the most visible leaders of the #blacklivesmatter movement. This book is part essay collection and part memoir, and delves into his beginnings as a protester, experiences in activism, and advice for fighting against white supremacy and police violence. Mckesson does a great job of making the personal political and using his own memories as a mirror for society. I feel like it took a while for his unique voice and perspective to emerge f ...more
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Finally! A discussion on racial issues that is informative and insightful!

A lot of my issues with past memoirs/nonfiction that I read that focused heavily on race was that these books would read very "Racism 101" to me.  I'm not saying that I am an expert on the subject matter, but what is discussed in a lot of books that is marketed towards the general public is very basic and little would resonate with me.  I often wondered why that is... Were these authors afraid to dig deeper? Were they appr
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"So much of what trauma does to us is trap us in the present; it traps us in its constraints. We often see the limitations all around us because we need to see them in order to survive. Not to see them would be deadly. We become gifted at knowing how far to push before the world pushes back on us. But Storm? Storm didn't live in a world with those constraints. And for thirty minutes each weekend, neither did I." pg. 107

"History is the accumulation of our stories. Stories help us make sense of th
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was fortunate enough last spring to see DeRay Mckesson and Brene Brown have a long discussion about how to have the difficult conversations, and so much of what they discussed stuck with me and has informed my activism afterward. My favorite take-away from the whole thing was something that DeRay said to the effect of "allies are good to have, but accomplices are better." It's nice to know that someone has your back, but it is essential to have someone who is willing to stand beside you and fa ...more
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
A memoir and call for action, in On the Other Side of Freedom Mckesson tells his story of the Ferguson protests, his research into police brutality, his life as a gay black man, and his decision to join politics. I love the content of this book. I would think it would be hard for anyone to refute his evidence about the need for new police guidelines and a rethinking of how we handle crime and deviance in the US, but what I've learned about most of the people who disagree with me on this issue is ...more
DeRay's Pod Save the People is appointment-listening for me. I always always get amazing information and news and inspiration from the news team on this weekly podcast. This book really is a longer version of the inspiration pieces that DeRay always starts the pod with. This is in no way a history of the Black Lives Matter movement or even the Ferguson protests. It begins there, but does not dwell on the specific events. Instead, it's more a rumination on the power and purpose of protests and ho ...more
I picked this for a book club because I saw him speak as a guest on the Daily show with Trevor Noah and I thought he was so well-spoken that I knew I wanted to hear more about his thoughts. I’m so glad I listened to this on audio because he narrates it and I prefer listening to a memoir by the author as they knew what they want to emphasize and emote. And the book is as well done as his interview. I found it engaging, enlightening, and moving.
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
DeRay!!! I love him and was so excited to finally read this. It's short, but gives you a good look at what he stands for and how to fight against injustice as well as some personal stories so you understand his background. He's inspiring!
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
🤯 Read it now 🤯
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
DeRay writes with clear passion and direction as he offers an inspiring way forward while reflecting on his roots and the beginning of BLM's work in Ferguson. Highly recommend!
Antoinette Perez
READ THIS. I'll definitely read it a second time, and probably a third.
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A breathtaking book. DeRay is able to "zoom in" to stories from his own life and masterfully "zoom out" to present compelling data regarding mass incarceration, gun violence, racial inequality, and more.

The last chapter (Letter to an Activist) is worth the price of admission alone. He stresses the importance of African Americans needing to insist that others be able to hold their anger and not expect them to "perform" as if they are happy. He also gives each of us plenty of reasons for hope.
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Should be required reading. Could not put down. So relatable, smart, passionate and true.
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this to be an inspiring read, though one that I didn't walk away from with a lot of concrete quotes. A good, solid read. I look forward to what else Mckesson has to say.
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I listened to DeRay narrate his book on Audible, and I'm so glad I did. The content itself will change my approach to life and to activism. He included countless lessons drawn from not only his own experiences, but those of other activists. His words about choosing not to add pain on top of someone's pain stopped me in my tracks. His caution not to organize in a way that reinforces the power structures that we're working had immediate implications for my activism. I plan to listen to this again ...more
Recommended for everyone. Mckesson’s vulnerability and eloquence is remarkable. He is a storyteller and an educator. He will provide you data with the means [to begin] to process it. He’ll provide a story with the permission to sit with it, but only for a time. DeRay Mckesson is about the work, “Hope is not magic. Hope is work. Let’s get to the work.”

>>for those who are already engaging in social justice, this is one to own. McKesson is inspiring, informative, and real. The lyricism is per
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In a "soft spoken" type of writing the author tells us his experiences as a black man in the US. This book helped me, as a priviledged white man, to better understand how African Americans and other people of color see the world, and how they are treated by whites, especially law enforcement. Much of the author's report centers around Ferguson, Missouri and the events that place there in 2014.

McKesson reminds us of the value of protesting. "Protest is telling the truth in public. Sometimes prot
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
DeRay McKesson’s book “On the Other Side of Freedom” is an amazing dialogue and honest unpacking of the narratives we among the privileged of society have easily dismissed or ignored. I found myself moved and engaged by every single line and note of DeRay’s book. The truth in each point is so unapologetically direct that you can often find yourself uncomfortable. I do not think that discomfort is a bad thing, especially in the face of the case presented. It is an enlightening process to sit with ...more
Karly Grice
A really informative, important, and powerful book regarding doing the work for justice and equity today. I particularly loved and resonated with the points McKesson made about faith vs hope and his discussion of the role Storm and the X-men played for him. I can’t possible say as well as he can all the reasons I think this is an important must read for humanity and teachers, and there are even chapters I plan to excerpt for my future classes. For teachers (and parents) in particular, there’s on ...more
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Definitely a 5 star read, one that I would highly recommend to everyone. I'll be honest, I actually liked this a bit more than "Between the World and Me." I think that Mckesson is smart, nuanced, and a really good writer.

Some favorite quotes:
"Ideological purity is not a political goal. Nevertheless, the desire for it is strong especially among those who know that it is an implausible reality. Politics, the decision-making process that helps to shape the way we interact with our communities and v
Max Wright
DeRay Mckesson's highly anticipated memoir takes readers behind the curtain into how he came to hold his beliefs, how he became involved in the Fergusson protests back in 2014, and his reflections on identity.

The book's structure (really a collection of essays, not a personal narrative) gives the impression that Mckesson is not fully ready to open himself to the world and be vulnerable. Perhaps Mckesson doesn't want to claim ownership of the Ferguson protests as 'his' movement, which is an incr
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“To acknowledge the existence of the bully and his accompanying risks is not the same as accepting him as a permanent feature of our world. I know that if we accept trauma and fear, it wins.

"Bullies don’t just go away. Their legacies don’t just disappear. The bully must be confronted intentionally, his impact named and addressed. Even so, it seems there’s no clear consensus on how to deal with the bully on our blocks. Do we confront him? Match violence with violence? Do we ignore him, or try to kill him with kindness? I don’t think there’s a silver bullet to handling the bully, no one-size-fits-all strategy. But the right strategy has to be rooted in a context bigger than the immediate one, has to be rooted in more than aiming to end the presence of the bully himself. We must focus on the type of world we want to live in and devise a plan for getting there, as opposed to devising a strategy centered on opposition.”
“We need to remind the peers of the bully that they benefit from bullying even if they are not themselves the transgressors. Indeed, they benefit from it, but they are tarnished by it. To chip away at the humanity of select groups is to chip away at humanity itself.” 2 likes
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