For many, the story of the weeks of protests in the summer of 2020 began with the eight minutes and 46 seconds when Police Officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd on camera, and it ended with the sweeping federal, state, and intrapersonal changes that soon followed. It is a simple story, wherein white America finally witnessed enough brutality to move their collective consciousness. The only problem is that it isn't true. George Floyd was not the first Black man to be murdered by police, yet his death came at a time when America was already at a tipping point, while the collective mindset was already shifting.
In SAY THEIR NAMES, six seasoned journalists probe this critical shift, illustrating that it was not sudden but instead a groundswell, one that has been building for decades. By examining how inequality was propagated through history, from Black imprisonment and the Convict Leasing program to distrust springing from long-standing predatory medical practices, the authors highlight the disparities that for so long have characterized the dangers of being Black in America. They will show how Black people in America attempted a series of moderate methods to counteract these inequalities, dating back to Ferguson and the Civil Rights movement before it, to enact change long before the pandemic arrived, and how the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd pushed compliance with an unjust system to its breaking point. Finally, they will outline the changes that have resulted from this movement, helping readers understand the magnitude of what we've been able to accomplish, while at the same time proposing necessary next steps to move forward as individuals and as a whole.
With a combination of incisive, focused journalism and affecting personal insight, the authors bring together their collective years reporting into one voice, creating a cohesive and comprehensive understanding of racial inequality in America.