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On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope

4.4  ·  Rating details ·  306 Ratings  ·  47 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
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
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!
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
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
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!
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.
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.
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: social-justice
Definitely worth going back to as I think about how I can contribute to movements for social justice. Mckesson thoughtfully examines how liberation movements can be effective in the age of social media, and lays out a vision for moving society forward. It’s an expansive, embracing view that seeks justice, not revenge, and which recognizes that we can play a variety of roles according to our experiences and passions. Highly recommended for its strong emphasis on intersectionality, and on lifting ...more
Jordan Smith
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was a good book, I really enjoyed hearing DeRay McKesson’s story and his experiences. I think he has so much to off and strives so hard to better our society. The world is better because of DeRay. I gave 4 Stars because I felt like it got hard to follow at times. Sometimes the sources were blog articles and not necessarily empirical research. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about being an activist/doing social justice work and who is interested in equity ...more
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you are curious who Deray Mckesson is, where he came from, what has influenced his thinking, and what he's working on, this is a good primer. That being said, his writing in this book has a more academic feel than his podcast, Pod Save the People, where he and his panelists are more accessible. While Deray does give some tangible examples to explain his thinking, it is still often rather abstract and could use some more fleshing out.

That being said, his story and what he's experienced is imp
Sep 29, 2018 rated it liked it
DeRay Mckesson's book is both a call to action and hope for the world as it could be. Using his own experiences as an activist, organizer, educator, and public official, Mckessen speaks to all of us about how we can work to make the world better. He writes that we all can and must work to make the system better, because that is the only way it can be done. There are some hard truths in this book, but they're important truths, that remind us to all be active and engaged citizens.

Thank you to Good
Elizabeth Kissling
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I've admired DeRay McKesson for years and was excited to read On the Other Side of Freedom. He has described his new book as a collection of essays, but they work together coherently. The book is an engaging and smart synthesis of accessible philosophy, practical guide, and memoir. It would have been a great addition to the seminar I taught on activism a year ago; I'm confident students would enjoy it and find it personally meaningful.

Karen Adkins
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've been listening to Mckesson's Pod Save the People for a while now, and really appreciated the way he talks about justice issues for people of color. This combination memoir/reflection on justice is in the same ballpark; it's reflective, realistic without being cynical, motivating, and pragmatic (I particularly appreciated his observations about working with people when he had substantive disagreements with them). He also happens to be a really lyrical writer.
Brandy O'Rourke
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is yet another book I’ve read this year that has earned its space on the shelf of required reading for the current day.

Mckesson using anecdote and data to immerse the listener in the life of the activist including both the harsh realities of fighting injustice and as well as a message of self care, acceptance, and hope. I found his voice and message inspiring as well as a call to action, accompliceship, love.
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved the essays in this book. DeRay Mckesson is a gifted writer and tackles tough issues with clarity and grace. The impacts of racism, homophobia and our inhumane justice system are treated as they need to be - as human built systems that can and must be rebuilt. A book worth reading for the national conversation we need to be having.
D’Anna Lerma
On the Other Side of Freedom was such an insightful and inspiring read. I only wish DeRay would have delved even deeper into the subject of black men and homosexuality as well as the relationship with his mother. For such personal topics, I felt they were thrown in and somewhat glossed over. Overall, this was an informative, powerful, much-needed call for action.
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cbr-10
I never understood why Barack Obama titled one of his books The Audacity of Hope, but I get it now. This is packed full of wisdom, insight, and hope. I love Pod Save the People, and DeRay shines in this written collection of his experience in trying to better the world for others. I felt like I was in church.
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
DeRay spent over 400 days in Ferguson, MO fighting against police brutality, experiencing it first hand. He writes of what he learned about organizing, community and courage through this experience. His story is full of passion and heart as well as anger and logical analysis of racism. I love his tone and point of view, which is expansive and hopeful.
Jonathan Monnet
Sep 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Mr. McKesson introduces himself and philosophy to the general public in a way that in my opinion alienates more people than the Black Lives Matter slogan. He has his views and has a right to them but I see no effort to reach across the political aisle. His autobiographical account was excellent and I was delighted to learn more about the origins of a figure who I really had little knowledge of.
Jordan | Jordan’s Book Collection
This has been one of the best books I’ve read this year. DeRay shares strands of his life while reminding you that there’s still much to learn. I do wish, however, that he included endnotes as he references a lot of outside material that I want to dig into but have to go on a treasure hunt to find.
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
DeRay has dedicated his life to activism and justice, and he takes us from the origins of his protests in Ferguson to the Black Lives Matter movement. I was truly inspired by his work, and the personal stories about his childhood, adolescence, and being gay and black in America. I look forward to seeing more of his bright blue Patagonia vest, as well as reading much much more from him.
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is beautifully and powerfully written, both the memoir reflections and the experiences and lessons learned from organizing. Mckesson returns to several themes throughout, which are timely and inform the entire book, and they shed valuable light on the racism and police violence, among other issues, that Mckesson and others are organizing to end.
Joseph A. Watson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Deray’s thoughtful as always in this series of essays about himself, his life as an activist and organizer, and how he sees our path forward to a more just society. Through the pain he shares, there remains a sense of hope and optimism about the work being worth it, which is an important lesson in 2018.
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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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