Great Reads: Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson


It’s pretty hard to watch an interview with Michael Eric Dyson and not be immediately intrigued. The way he eloquently blends the worlds of academia and Hip-Hop together to support his arguments not only entertaining but, necessary.

When he speaks on racial issues Black people face in America, he is always able to grab the attention of people on either side of the Urban spectrum. Everyone from the college educated, to the corner hustlers can understand and relate to his plight because he goes out of his way to make the information easy to digest. He can go from describing the economic struggles of the people in Ferguson, to quoting a relevant Jay-Z line in the same breath. Dr. Dyson has been a champion for the Urban community for the past three decades, he’s been in this game for years, and it’s made him an animal (See what I did there? Lol).

In his book “Tears We Cannot Stop, A Sermon to White America,” Dr. Dyson took a different approach than what he normally does in his books. He has written nineteen, though I feel they are all important, I felt this latest edition was able to reach a new audience that wouldn’t normally read his work.

First, the way he structured the book was interesting. Tears We Cannot Stop followed the order of a church service, however, Black Americans weren’t present this particular Sunday. Dr. Dyson called the entire White America to the front of the congregation. In each chapter (Call to Worship, Invocation, Scripture Reading, etc.), he wrote about the importance of White America understanding the plight of Black people in this country if we are ever to move forward. The timing of this work couldn’t have been any better as this country has just witnessed the changing winds of racial harmony. Maybe there was never any such thing but, in any case, if we as a people cannot understand perspective, nothing will change.  

Michael Eric Dyson is a powerful storyteller, and when he describes events of his past he can put you right at the moment with the same emotional intensity, he must have been feeling.

My favorite part of the book is a section he titled “Nigger.” In these pages, Dyson beautifully put into words all Black people feel when white people use the word, and when white people make the case that they too should use it. He made the case that when white people use the ugly word to describe a Black person, we are only a product of the whiteness that has blinded them.

I also think about how Frankenstein is the name of the scientist and not the monster, but the monster soon came to be identified by his inventor’s name.
— Michael Eric Dyson

Damn, I had to read and re-read that sentence because it stuck out to me in such a great way. Now, don’t get is twisted, this book is not a plead to White America for any handouts, Black people in this country have always survived what has been thrown at us. Rather, this book is a call to action for the white people who understand their privilege, understand where their white guilt comes from, and want to help their fellow white understand the burden we live with because of our black skin. Great Read.