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On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  2,249 ratings  ·  285 reviews
"On the Other Side of Freedom reveals the mind and motivations of a young man who has risen to the fore of millennial activism through study, discipline, and conviction. His belief in a world that can be made better, one act at a time, powers his narratives and opens up a view on the costs, consequences, and rewards of leading a movement."--Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

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Hardcover, 212 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by Viking
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chantel nouseforaname
You have to appreciate what DeRay has contributed to the culture.

An idea that he discusses is that sometimes, a lot of the time, people just need someone to point their "founder" label at to make sense of shit that happens in the world. They need to label someone "founder of a movement" to either point their hate at or point their love at and he's been, a lot of the time, the focal point of that sort of attention; whether or not he wanted it.

Then there's this kind of underlying conversation or
Monica Kim: Reader in Emerald City
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Hope is the belief that our tomorrows can be better than our todays. Hope is not magic; hope is work. — DeRay Mckesson, On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope
wow, deep, honest, intelligent, DeRay Mckesson’s “On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope” was an eye-opening, thought-provoking, and profound reading experience! It was much deeper than I had expected, it is beautifully, lyrically written; at times, courageous, intimidate, and inspirational. It reads like a coming-of-age
Joshunda Sanders
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How can you not know about Deray and his everpresent blue vest? This beautiful memoir has some lovely additional details about it, of course, but what is most resonant is additional information about his connection to his family, how he came to be engaged in Ferguson and the larger Movement for Black Lives and his uniquely graceful, eloquent description of moving from being quiet about his sexuality to speaking up, along with the heart-tugging beauty of his relationship with his birth mother and ...more
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Once in awhile I want to give a book six stars, this is one of them. DeRay Mckesson writes beautifully and intelligently about his life, about St Louis, about the structure of America's police forces, and about politics. I am sad that this young man did not get elected mayor of our city! I remember reading or hearing somewhere in the run-up to the primary that he was the candidate with the most clearly articulated and thought out platform, and that was enough for me. I have already pulled my fav ...more
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is part memoir and part discussion of racial issues that affect the US. DeRay McKesson relates life experiences while also making you think how society is set up. This book is a must read.

I was provided a copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it

On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope is a meditation on resistance, justice, freedom, and a call to arms because standing idly by doesn’t cut it anymore. Making your voice heard among the voices that wish to silence you is as important as ever because everything that’s been fought for and won is now under attack. McKesson started a podcast awhile back with a monologue that resonated with me about protecting the win. It’s no longer not enough just to win. You have to then continue figh
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
So much power in these pages, but can I also say that this is the single greatest opening line of an essay?: "It wasn't that I didn't believe in god, but that I believed in Storm from the X-Men more." <3! ...more
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Finally! A discussion on racial issues that is informative and insightful!

A lot of my issues with past memoirs/nonfiction that I read that focused heavily on race was that these books would read very "Racism 101" to me.  I'm not saying that I am an expert on the subject matter, but what is discussed in a lot of books that is marketed towards the general public is very basic and little would resonate with me.  I often wondered why that is... Were these authors afraid to dig deeper? Were they appr
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a really beautiful and personal book.

I especially appreciated the inclusion and naming of people who could easily be forgotten, generally for some reason that makes them easy to marginalize: gay, a woman, a pregnant teenager. Those constraints put on acceptance constrain the fight for freedom.

One of those was Marcus Anthony Hunter, who first used #blacklivesmatter in the context of "black migration and movement is the defining characteristic of growth in cities and always has been". The
Susie Dumond
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
DeRay Mckesson is a powerful advocate who has become one of the most visible leaders of the #blacklivesmatter movement. This book is part essay collection and part memoir, and delves into his beginnings as a protester, experiences in activism, and advice for fighting against white supremacy and police violence. Mckesson does a great job of making the personal political and using his own memories as a mirror for society. I feel like it took a while for his unique voice and perspective to emerge f ...more
Debbie Notkin
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am a huge fan of POD SAVE THE PEOPLE, a podcast hosted by DeRay (who makes his listeners feel like we should use his first name) so I came to this with a positive spin ... and I was not at all disappointed.

This book is mostly about how he came to activism, as a result of Mike Brown's murder-by-police in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, contexted by many other things that are important in his life, which include his childhood, his homosexuality, his relationship with the mother who left when he was
Dec 14, 2018 rated it liked it
I chose to read this to get a perspective of someone with very different experiences and probably fairly different views that my own. I felt that I did learn from his stories and how they shaped his perspective. I had some trouble understanding who the intended audience of the book was or its goal - sometimes he's just telling stories, other times he seems to be trying to persuade but he doesn't always provide much in the way of support for his arguments, and when he does, there aren't footnotes ...more
Kent Winward
Oct 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Nothing bad here, but not a lot that stands out. Nothing quite like Ta nehisi Coates or Cornell West.
P. Kirby
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
You never have to defend your rage. You have every right to be angry about the conditions that you were born into. You did not choose this fight; this fight chose you. That we ask for justice and not revenge is a testament to the souls of black folks--that we will not become the people we fight against. Do no let people demand your happiness either. All these things are yours--yours to decide how to put into the world on your own schedule.

It's common practice among some on the left, particul
Feb 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021, non-fiction
The false distance of history aims to deceive us into believing that the trauma of racism and injustice is in our past.

On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope was a powerful essay collection that mixed persuasive essays with personal stories. I've been following DeRay Mckesson on Twitter since 2014 and really enjoyed getting to learn more about the roots of the Black Lives Matter movement and his growth as an activist. The persuasive essays, particularly the one on policing, were imp
I saw/heard DeRay McKesson speak at the Library Technology Conference in 2019 and was so impressed with his knowledge of statistics about policing and race, and his perspective on that subject, that I bought his book there. Reading On the Other Side of Freedom is different from hearing him speak--it is much less about statistics and how to interpret them, and much more like a memoir, a letter to fellow activists, and a history of the Black Lives Matter movement and the protests in Ferguson, MO a ...more
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting book/audiobook. I listened to it while I was working and was able to listen to it within a few hours. This book is a good introduction into how to what it means to be an activist.
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is excellent. DeRay mixes his story of protesting in Ferguson, what came after, his personal history, and thoughts on our criminal justice system. I read this one twice before I had to bring it back to the library.
Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Few books have covered as much, as deeply, in so few pages. This is something I’ll be going back to again and again.
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"So much of what trauma does to us is trap us in the present; it traps us in its constraints. We often see the limitations all around us because we need to see them in order to survive. Not to see them would be deadly. We become gifted at knowing how far to push before the world pushes back on us. But Storm? Storm didn't live in a world with those constraints. And for thirty minutes each weekend, neither did I." pg. 107

"History is the accumulation of our stories. Stories help us make sense of th
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
This made me so sad and so angry but so hopeful.
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was fortunate enough last spring to see DeRay Mckesson and Brene Brown have a long discussion about how to have the difficult conversations, and so much of what they discussed stuck with me and has informed my activism afterward. My favorite take-away from the whole thing was something that DeRay said to the effect of "allies are good to have, but accomplices are better." It's nice to know that someone has your back, but it is essential to have someone who is willing to stand beside you and fa ...more
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
A memoir and call for action, in On the Other Side of Freedom Mckesson tells his story of the Ferguson protests, his research into police brutality, his life as a gay black man, and his decision to join politics. I love the content of this book. I would think it would be hard for anyone to refute his evidence about the need for new police guidelines and a rethinking of how we handle crime and deviance in the US, but what I've learned about most of the people who disagree with me on this issue is ...more
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it
A well written book that confronts many of the injustices faced by minority in this country, specifically African Americans. After reading several books of a similar subject matter, I assumed I was well versed with the material, but was reminded by DeRay that there is always another aspect. In On the Other Side of Freedom, the new material was the group of statistics from , whose scope I was unaware of. Other then this however, I found this book to primarily pe ...more
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
DeRay's Pod Save the People is appointment-listening for me. I always always get amazing information and news and inspiration from the news team on this weekly podcast. This book really is a longer version of the inspiration pieces that DeRay always starts the pod with. This is in no way a history of the Black Lives Matter movement or even the Ferguson protests. It begins there, but does not dwell on the specific events. Instead, it's more a rumination on the power and purpose of protests and ho ...more
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I listened to DeRay narrate his book on Audible, and I'm so glad I did. The content itself will change my approach to life and to activism. He included countless lessons drawn from not only his own experiences, but those of other activists. His words about choosing not to add pain on top of someone's pain stopped me in my tracks. His caution not to organize in a way that reinforces the power structures that we're working had immediate implications for my activism. I plan to listen to this again ...more
Stacie Kenney
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookclubbook
DeRay has blown my mind with the database he worked on and the analysis which was shared in this book. Those ten or so pages alone made this book worth so much more than it's price. I feel I need to extract these few pages and commit them to memory, they are that profound and telling. In addition to this, the way in which he explains the purposefulness of protests is compelling, and useful for those that have doubts. Also, his explanation on the myth of meritocracy was so insightful. I knew and ...more
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A breathtaking book. DeRay is able to "zoom in" to stories from his own life and masterfully "zoom out" to present compelling data regarding mass incarceration, gun violence, racial inequality, and more.

The last chapter (Letter to an Activist) is worth the price of admission alone. He stresses the importance of African Americans needing to insist that others be able to hold their anger and not expect them to "perform" as if they are happy. He also gives each of us plenty of reasons for hope.
I picked this for a book club because I saw him speak as a guest on the Daily show with Trevor Noah and I thought he was so well-spoken that I knew I wanted to hear more about his thoughts. I’m so glad I listened to this on audio because he narrates it and I prefer listening to a memoir by the author as they knew what they want to emphasize and emote. And the book is as well done as his interview. I found it engaging, enlightening, and moving.
Dec 22, 2019 rated it liked it
I was hoping for more of a memoir about McKesson’s activism at Ferguson. My own fault for not reading the book jacket! This book is, instead, a somewhat disjointed collection of essays most of which are autobiographical and all of which deal with race. I appreciate McKesson’s perspective and there are some insightful nuggets but it didn’t grab me and shake my worldview the way Ta-Nehisi Coates and the book “White Fragility” did.
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  Here at Goodreads, we've noticed that a funny thing tends to happen when we start talking about audiobooks: The same few titles get...
5 likes · 1 comments
“To acknowledge the existence of the bully and his accompanying risks is not the same as accepting him as a permanent feature of our world. I know that if we accept trauma and fear, it wins.

"Bullies don’t just go away. Their legacies don’t just disappear. The bully must be confronted intentionally, his impact named and addressed. Even so, it seems there’s no clear consensus on how to deal with the bully on our blocks. Do we confront him? Match violence with violence? Do we ignore him, or try to kill him with kindness? I don’t think there’s a silver bullet to handling the bully, no one-size-fits-all strategy. But the right strategy has to be rooted in a context bigger than the immediate one, has to be rooted in more than aiming to end the presence of the bully himself. We must focus on the type of world we want to live in and devise a plan for getting there, as opposed to devising a strategy centered on opposition.”
“I have grown tired of the notion of an ally. I prefer the language of an “accomplice.” An ally loves you from a distance. An accomplice loves you up close. We need allies to make the transition to accomplices. An ally is someone who has unpacked her personal privilege but hasn’t yet made the link to institutional issues and is not willing to risk anything besides her mental comfort. An accomplice rolls up her sleeves and engages in the work that is beyond her. She’ll march in the streets, yes. But an accomplice also faces her own participation in whiteness, acknowledges it, and then looks beyond that personal acknowledgment to identify how her awareness can be applied to changing the systems and mindsets that prop up the system.” 8 likes
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