Author Michael Eric Dyson: America is in trouble

Author and Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson. Credit: Nina Subin

Author and Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson. Credit: Nina Subin

In his new book, author and Georgetown sociology professor Michael Eric Dyson sees a nation that is deeply troubled. And most of it boils down to race.

In just a few years, the United States has witnessed the election of its first black president followed by a president whose victory was celebrated by the Ku Klux Klan.

In his new book, “Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America,” Dyson writes that the two events may not be unrelated.

Trump’s campaign denounced the endorsement of a KKK-linked newspaper. Still, Dyson sees the fact that such groups felt emboldened enough to publicly support his candidacy as evidence of a deep division.

“There’s no question that white America felt a sense of resentment — a sense of collective revenge,” particularly those who espouse white supremacy, he said.

Dyson will join former Attorney General Eric Holder for a discussion on “Race: The American Cauldron” during a program from 3 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Wednesday at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum, 441 Freedom Pkwy. N.E.

Panelists will include Elizabeth Hinton, Black Lives Matters’ co-founder DeRay McKesson and Pulitzer Prize winner Douglas Blackmon.

This event is free and open to the public with limited seating.

Recently, Dyson said, the nation witnessed some of the worst bigotry that’s been seen in 50 years. He included in that category the administration’s actions aimed at Muslims and immigrants and Trump’s own comments about women.

The white working class, he said, has somehow identified with Trump as a “blue-collar billionaire” when, indeed, “nothing could be further from the truth … They felt that they were voting in their best interests by embracing such a divisive figure who was railing against political correctness and expressing some of the vengeful whiteness that had resurfaced.”

“Tears We Cannot Stop,” is deeply personal for Dyson, who talks about his experience being stopped by the police in Hartford, Conn.

The pain and anger are evident when he also recounts the time his son, Mwata, an anesthesiologist, was also stopped with his young son in a car by a white police officer. The officer at one point asked Mwata if he was stupid and threatened to arrest him when Mwata had done nothing wrong.

In the book, Dyson said he wanted to “communicate a message of social reflection and cultural reaction in a way that would not necessarily alienate our white brothers and sisters, while challenging them.”

Dyson, an ordained Baptist minister, wanted to express those words in the context of a sermon that encouraged the discourse among whites to move beyond head nods to action and to fully understand the impact of white privilege.

He said coalitions must be formed among whites, women, immigrants, blacks and the LGTBQ communities.

“We pull out the full arsenal,” said Dyson. ” We pull out the full weaponry of social resistance. We talk. We tweet. We Facebook. We social media. We march. We organize. We call Congress people. We harass our representatives . We vote down-ballot. We plan for mid-term elections. We challenge redistricting. We march in Moral Monday … We raise our voices.”


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Michael Eric Dyson

He is an author of numerous books, including “The Black Presidency: Barak Obama and the Politics of Race in America” and “I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King Jr.”

He also holds the position of University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University and is an ordained minister.

He is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times and a contributing editor of “The New Republic” and “The Undefeated.” Ebony magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential African-Americans. He is a frequent guest on radio and news shows.