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Michael Eric Dyson and Robin DiAngelo
Credit: Courtesy of Townhall Seattle

Race, reckoning, and redemption: Michael Eric Dyson’s message to White America

The police killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis officer shifted something in America. A broad spectrum of white people began to consider in a seemingly new way the reality of systematic racism. Is that change momentary, or permanent?

Michael Eric Dyson is a Black man, a widely respected scholar of race, and a Baptist minister. He has spent much of his career writing about and grappling with the Black experience in America. His reasoning is clear. His oratory is stirring.

Dyson’s latest book is Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America. It is made up of seven letters Dyson wrote to victims of racial violence: Elijah McClain, Emmett Till, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Hadiya Pendleton, Sandra Bland, and the Rev. Clementa Pinckney.

The work challenges white Americans to come, finally, to a long-delayed reckoning with anti-Blackness, institutionalized police violence, systematic racial injustice and, he hopes, the possibility of national redemption. Dyson hasn’t given up on his faith in humanity, but he asks, “How far are we willing to go? Are we prepared to sacrifice tradition and convention for genuine transformation?”

In this episode of Speakers Forum, Michael Eric Dyson has a conversation with racial justice advocate Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.

This conversation was presented by Town Hall Seattle on December 8. Town Hall’s event manager Candace Wilkinson-Davis moderated the Q&A.