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October 2011, Week 2

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The Color of Law

Book Review:

    The Best of "The Way I See It" and Other Political
    Writings (1989-2010)
    By Jamala Rogers

By David A. Love, JD BlackCommentator.com Executive
Editor
BC
October 5, 2011

http://www.blackcommentator.com/444/444_col_review_rogers.php

Jamala Rogers, the veteran activist, organizer, writer
and BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, has
written a new book about the African-American
experience. And if you care about black folks, human
rights and social justice, perhaps you should take a
look.

The book, The Best of "The Way I See It" and Other
Political Writings (1989-2010), is a collection of the
author's commentaries from the Saint Louis American,
BlackCommentator.com and other publications. Spanning
over several decades to speak to the struggles of the
black experience and examine the wrongs waged against
the community. Rogers' work is actually three books in
one - part-storybook of the poor and oppressed, part-
annotated history of black people in America, part-
recipe book for addressing inequality and injustice.

The power of Jamala Rogers' writing is its
accessibility, and its clarity in articulating the
challenges of everyday people. Her words make readers
feel as if they are a part of the story, and motivate
them to take action. Commentaries that she wrote in the
80s and 90s, having stood the test of time, are as
relevant, timely and fresh as if she just wrote them
yesterday.

"My intent is always to have a conversation with my
readers - to inform, to inspire, and to move them to
action. That's whether it's the waitress at the local
restaurant or the professor at the university," Rogers
writes. "My writings are inspired and informed by the
valiant struggles of peoples to their oppressive and
exploitative conditions no matter where they are in the
world. My goal is to expose the systems that reproduce
those conditions and to provide possible strategies for
our collective discussion and actions. I strive to show
the inter-connectedness of the global economic system
and how it affects [our] daily lives."

What should strike the reader is the depth of the
author's knowledge on a variety of subjects - whether
historical or current events - and the diversity of
issues she tackles in this book. Perhaps it speaks
partly to the universal and intractable nature of
injustice. However, ultimately it tells far more about
the skill and knowledge of the author.

The Best of "The Way I See It" is a journey across
America and the world. In one chapter, Jamala tells the
story of the Tuskegee Experiment, when the U.S.
government played with the lives of black men by
allowing them to suffer for years and die from
untreated Syphilis. Another chapter may discuss the
controversial black boxer Jack Johnson, or the plight
of the Palestinians, Haitians or Katrina victims, or
coal miners, or a police brutality victim.

Another subject that permeates this collection of
stories is Rogers' beloved, and many times not so
beloved, city of St. Louis. St. Louis, as the author
reminds us, is the location of the Old Courthouse where
the original Dred Scott took place and justice
ultimately was denied. St. Louis is also a city where
black children had to run for their lives while
attempting to integrate a public swimming pool, as an
armed white mob chased and spat at them. And like so
many other cities, public hospitals that serve the poor
are shuttered to make way for condominiums, bad police
officers are acquitted, and wars are waged against
popular, community-oriented black journalists.

"In the Lou, ours is an ongoing struggle to overcome
intractable racism to create a safe and just place that
protects the human rights of all," Jamala Rogers writes
of St. Louis in the book. "This is a city which has
held several dishonorable titles, including Most
Racially Segregated, Most Dangerous City, Least Kid-
Friendly City, #1 in Racial Mortgage Rate Disparity,
just to name a few. St. Louis racism is not just a
figment of our imagination, it is our brutal reality."

The Best of "The Way I See It" was an enjoyable read,
opening my eyes on certain subjects and reaffirming
what I already knew concerning others. Although I first
expected a compilation of articles, what I discovered
was a powerful account of the struggles facing the
black community.
_________________________

BlackCommentator.com Executive Editor, David A. Love,
JD is a journalist and human rights advocate based in
Philadelphia, is a graduate of Harvard College and the
University of Pennsylvania Law School. and a
contributor to The Huffington Post, the Grio, The
Progressive Media Project, McClatchy-Tribune News
Service, In These Times and Philadelphia Independent
Media Center. He also blogs at davidalove.com, NewsOne,
Daily Kos, and Open Salon.

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