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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Howard Bryant's New Book, "Full Dissidence"

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on April 5, 2021

Over the weekend, I read "Full Dissidence: notes from an uneven playing field" by Howard Bryant, Beacon Press (2020). I highly recommend this book to my readers. As noted author Ibram X. Kendi says, "This book is an oracle." I agree.

Mr. Bryant is a senior writer for and a correspondent for NPR's Weekend Edition. He won several awards for his writing and has been twice nominated for the National Magazine Award for commentary. His books include "The Heritage, Juicing the Game," and "The Last Hero." He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

This is one of the best books I have ever read on the racial politics of athletics and the athletic politics of race. Mr. Bryant "places important issues of sports in the proper context of their current times and historical precedent," says Bomani Jones, co-host of High Noon. The book's cover jacket summarizes its contents better than I could ever do it. I have reprinted its summary below:

"These ten original essays form an impassioned mediation on who gets to be American, on where the aggressive reestablishment of white nationalism leaves black America, and whether, battered by grinding inequality, Americans of all races are willing to surrender their democracy to the capricious generosity of the super-rich.

In these pages, award-winning sportswriter and cultural critic Howard Bryant steps beyond the boundaries of the playing field and encounters the game in lockstep with the nation, reveling in its ability to crush dissent. Broken into three parts, the book first confronts authoritarianism masquerading as patriotism, the banishment of Colin Kaepernick on the field and the corporate attack on labor off of it, two decades of endless war and the increasing militarization of society as America drowns in debt, and the idealizing of the police without accountability. In the second part Bryant addresses the myth of integration and the erasure of identity as a condition of success for black professionals and ballplayers alike. The third looks at the reassertion of dominance, the white male retaliation to #MeToo and minority hiring, the political and celebrity classes violating the public trust without consequences, and the political installation of corporate lackeys charged with eliminating government oversight as private industry devours public wealth. While citizens bicker and opposition wanes, the power, Bryant argues, is making its moves."

Mr. Bryant has articulated the true state of racial matters in America. Every American of interracial goodwill should read this book.

PHOTO: Howard Bryant, author of "Full Dissidence: notes from an uneven playing field"

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