Review by Booklist Review
Bryant has had a long, brilliant career as a sports columnist, as the author of the definitive biography of Henry Aaron (The Last Hero, 2020), and as guest editor of The Best American Sports Writing: 2017, among other projects, while also remaining fearless in probing the racial issues at the foundation of American sport. His The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism (2018) laid out the social activism Bryant believes is the duty of every Black athlete to practice, but it's prologue to this anguished, ""fully dissident"" statement in the face of the racism Bryant details here in so many aspects of American life, from local school districts and police departments to NFL ownership to the U.S. military to the White House, all of which aside from the awful hurt of it all create a dilemma for Black Americans: to engage that racism and risk everything to inevitable white backlash, or take the smoother path to success by turning away from one's own history and people? Not much comfort here, only light.--Alan Moores Copyright 2020 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Bryant (The Heritage), a writer for ESPN the Magazine, poses disquieting questions about the intersection of race, politics, history, and sports in this wide-ranging and sharp-edged essay collection. Contending that "black success... has always led to white retribution," and that African-Americans' grievances inevitably spark "white mainstream backlash," Bryant discusses organized resistance to Supreme Court-mandated school desegregation, the creation of urban slums through white flight and redlining of real estate districts, the militarization of local policing in the wake of 9/11, and the election of Donald Trump following the Obama presidency. Autobiographical forays into Bryant's youth in "the hostile white backdrop" of Plymouth, Mass., and experiences with racial prejudice while hunting for a Boston apartment enrich his arguments, though the book's focus is on sport figures including Tiger Woods, Madison Keys, and Colin Kaepernick and their status at "the forefront of a certain type of trade: assimilation in exchange for money and star status affixed to serious considerations." These and other black athletes, Bryant contends, must choose between leaving their home culture and never returning, or speaking out and "expect the full weight of their industry... to punish them." Bryant's informed analyses and righteous anger transform sports into a valuable lens and tool for examining and combatting racism. Progressive sports fans will heed this incisive cri de coeur. (Jan.)
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Review by Library Journal Review
Senior ESPN writer Bryant showcases why he is one of the most talented writers of this generation in thoughtful essays that examine Colin Kaepernick's protests against police brutality, the militarization of sports, and the player-owner relationship. Readers familiar with Bryant's work will appreciate his in-depth analysis and examination of issues he's discussed on air. Bryant's latest book focuses on issues today; his 2018 book, The Heritage, considers the history of the athlete-activist and how society has arrived at its current position on activism. VERDICT Highly recommended: Bryant is a masterful writer and a voice of this generation. His passion and analysis on important topics is unparalleled.--Pamela Calfo, Bridgeville P.L., PA
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
A series of forceful, justifiably angry essays connected by the theme of white supremacy negating the full citizenship of black Americans.In his latest, ESPN The Magazine senior writer Bryant (The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism, 2018, etc.), who is also a correspondent for NPR's Weekend Edition, argues that no matter how faithfully black Americans observe the rules established by privileged whites, theyplus other people of colorwill never be fully accepted in any part of American society. Perhaps the most apt brief phrase to summarize the author's admirably detailed analysis is "white racial aggression." Because much of Bryant's recent journalism has been published by ESPN, he regularly refers to famous athletes such as LeBron James, Tiger Woods, and Colin Kaepernick to illustrate sweeping cultural phenomena that involve skin color. Bryant's bitternesslike that of so many Americans of all racesratcheted up after the hint of a post-racial society following the election of Barack Obama morphed into the hate-filled presidency of Donald Trump. The author cannot accept any statement that racism has demonstrably decreased compared to some indefinite past era. The only other option presented to him, he writes, is to "get over it," which he finds both condescending and impossible when that admonition ignores "what it means to be part of a lost tribe." One of the most thought-provokingand freshly arguedessays centers on how whites who violate society's norms regularly achieve rehabilitation while blacks rarely do. He constructs that essay around the reputational rehabilitation of ice skater Tonya Harding despite her assault on Nancy Kerrigan. Ultimately, Bryant believes that what many white Americans want is "the day when black people will finally stop talking about race, which will also mean the arrival of the day when white people can stop listening to it."Another illuminating social and cultural critique from an important contemporary voice. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.