A Perilous Path
This blisteringly candid discussion of the American dilemma in the age of Trump brings together the head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the former attorney general of the United States, a bestselling author and death penalty lawyer, and a star professor for an honest conversation the country desperately needs to hear. Drawing on their collective decades of work on civil rights issues as well as personal histories of rising from poverty and oppression, these leading lights of the legal profession and the fight for racial justice talk about the importance of reclaiming the racial narrative and keeping our eyes on the horizon as we work for justice in an unjust time.Covering topics as varied as "the commonality of pain," "when lawyers are heroes," and the concept of an "equality dividend" that is due to people of color for helping America brand itself internationally as a country of diversity and acceptance, Ifill, Lynch, Stevenson, and Thompson also explore topics such as "when did 'public' become a dirty word" (hint, it has something to do with serving people of color), "you know what Jeff Sessions is going to say," and "what it means to be a civil rights lawyer in the age of Trump."Building on Stevenson's hugely successful Just Mercy, Lynch's national platform at the Justice Department, Ifill's role as one of the leading defenders of civil rights in the country, and the occasion of Thompson's launch of a new center of on race, inequality and the law at the NYU School of Law, A Perilous Path will speak loudly and clearly to everyone concerned about America's perpetual fault line.

A Perilous Path Details

TitleA Perilous Path
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 6th, 2018
PublisherThe New Press
ISBN-139781620973950
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Politics, Social Movements, Social Justice, Law

A Perilous Path Review

  • E Vikander
    January 1, 1970
    “This conversation proved to be so much more than a lament over our current state of affairs; rather, in it we have seen the beginnings of a blueprint for a new progressive direction in America.” The astounding thing about this book, is how spot-on Ifill, Lynch, Stevenson, and Thompson were about Donald Trump considering their discussion took place only one month into his presidency. Their prescience speaks to the depth of their knowledge and experience. A clear-eyed discussion of race and equal “This conversation proved to be so much more than a lament over our current state of affairs; rather, in it we have seen the beginnings of a blueprint for a new progressive direction in America.” The astounding thing about this book, is how spot-on Ifill, Lynch, Stevenson, and Thompson were about Donald Trump considering their discussion took place only one month into his presidency. Their prescience speaks to the depth of their knowledge and experience. A clear-eyed discussion of race and equality, I found it both inspiring and at times harrowing with comments like “... how the law is managed depends very much on whose hands it is in.” I’ve highlighted more text in this short book than in many a longer tome. There is much in this book to think about.
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  • ~Krystal
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a political narrative about inequality, injustice and the duty of the American Public to change that. I rated this book ⭐⭐⭐⭐/ 5 stars for the following reasons: My Thoughts on this book:This book starts off extremely politically-minded about race and Trump's reaction to it. It mentions hyper-segregation which makes sense in current times. It talks about police using a narrative of fear and misdirection, to justify brutality. The book makes a great point about going backward in time This book is a political narrative about inequality, injustice and the duty of the American Public to change that. I rated this book ⭐⭐⭐⭐/ 5 stars for the following reasons: My Thoughts on this book:This book starts off extremely politically-minded about race and Trump's reaction to it. It mentions hyper-segregation which makes sense in current times. It talks about police using a narrative of fear and misdirection, to justify brutality. The book makes a great point about going backward in time to before the civil rights movement and actively being trampled on in regards to race and voting rights. It talks about how the government has become disenfranchised with the people who don't have a voice and are vulnerable. It points out that how laws are managed are dependent upon whose hands they're in. It talks about how having effective narratives between the different levels of government on racial inequality and injustice are so important. It makes the very valid point that failure to own up to a different race's humanity allows people to think they haven't done anything immoral. I like that a non-fiction book is being used as a platform to say that important narratives and conversations still need to happen in regards to the racism and racial inequality that is still happening 50+ years after the civil rights movement. That just because we won the war doesn't me we won the narratives of the war. I like how it talks about how schools need to start being judged on how many expulsions and suspensions they have and not test scores, as well as opening conversations on how to help these kids and their communities. How to help them heal from trauma from a world that discriminates against them because of the color of their skin and not how smart they are or what they've accomplished. It brings a good point to the table about systematic slavery in regards to drug addiction and mass incarcerations. The book touches on inequality in public transportation, housing/infrastructure, and environmental injustice. It also talks about unfair tax foreclosures that basically penalize you for being poor. It talks about how taking things away from privatization and putting them back in the public scope is how you keep a strong middle-class society, which makes complete sense to me as a Canadian. The point in the book where it says "The word public only became dirty when it became associated with being black," was extremely hard-hitting to my gut because it is 100% true and that is both extremely sad and very scary. I like how they mention that with civil rights issues no matter what color our skin is we should be standing up and saying we are all a part of this, this affects us all because standing after the law has already passed holds no meaning. The difference between America and other countries is that they don't talk about what a truly horrific history they have whereas places like Germany and Rwanda want you to see the devastation that their apathy has cost them. We have to understand where we are in the struggle and what side we're really on. "Injustice prevails where hopelessness persists."- Thurgood Marshall. We have a duty to help the public understand what these battles mean for the lives of the people they affect and the people which they are fought for. Would I recommend this book:I believe this truly is a narrative that people need to start having. That EVERY PERSON ON THE FACE OF THIS EARTH INCLUDING ALL AMERICANS need to start having. We need to keep this narrative going until it comes a point in this world where the narrative has won and the war was won for the right side, for the side of equal rights for everyone and the side of justice for all. I believe until we start talking about it then nothing will ever change. So yes I believe this book needs to be read, yes I recommend this book to others. Let's never let apartheid, racial inequality, lynchings or any crime against those more vulnerable happen ever again. Let's acknowledge our parts in the bigger picture and let's acknowledge our past. Let's stop hiding behind it and pretending it never happened because that's how this vicious cycle of racial discrepancy keeps happening. ***** I was given a copy of this book by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review, and thus have given such. Netgalley, nor the publisher have swayed my opinion in any way. Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book*****
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  • Niklas Pivic
    January 1, 1970
    This is a book that consists of a discussion between four persons: Sherrilyn Ifill the president of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund (LDF), Loretta Lynch, the eighty-third attorney general of the United States, Bryan Stevenson, the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and Anthony C. Thompson, a professor of clinical law and the faculty director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at New York University School of Law.It's a quite varied and senseful debate, This is a book that consists of a discussion between four persons: Sherrilyn Ifill the president of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund (LDF), Loretta Lynch, the eighty-third attorney general of the United States, Bryan Stevenson, the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and Anthony C. Thompson, a professor of clinical law and the faculty director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at New York University School of Law.It's a quite varied and senseful debate, if one can call it as such, where those persons speak of inequality, indifference, inherent racism, and the consequences of capitalism, almost entirely in regards to the USA. If one has read Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, Jill Leovy, and similar thinkers, this will not be entirely new information that will blow your mind.However, it is quite a necessary book that brings much-needed stuff and information to the surface. For example, from Stevenson:Bryan Stevenson: I think if you don’t hold people accountable for the narrative assaults that they make, then you’re never going to prevail. Because the South never voted for the Voting Rights Act, or the Civil Rights Act. They regrouped, started organizing in precisely the way you are describing, and then, forty-eight years later, they won a Supreme Court case, Shelby County, because their narrative persuaded the United States Supreme Court that we don’t need the Voting Rights Act anymore (at a time when we still saw the same suppression efforts). So I agree.I look at domestic violence. When we were young, there was a show on TV called The Honeymooners. And the punchline was Jackie Gleason saying to his wife, “To the moon, Alice,” which was a threat of violence. And everybody laughed. We didn’t take domestic violence seriously. When women called the police to their homes after being assaulted, the cops would tell. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a piece of federal legislation that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin in nearly every sphere of American life, including voting, public accommodations, public education, public facilities, and employment. jokes to the guy to get him calm. As long as he was calm, they wouldn’t make arrests. And then we began to work on the narrative. We actually allowed women who are survivors of that violence to have a voice. They made the movie The Burning Bed. And we started talking about the pain and the injury and the suffering. Before you knew it, we started to think differently about that. And today, even these elite, professional athletes are risking something—not nearly enough, we still have a long way to go—when they engage in these acts of violence.I think we’ve seen the same thing on climate change. But we haven’t made that kind of effort on race in my view, to direct things at the communities that need a narrative shift. And I think until we do that, we’re not going to make progress.What all of the participants speak of is mainly the need for change via grassroots movements; naturally, the corporations (which are effectively in power in a plutocratic oligarchy, which the USA is in 2018) will not do this for us:Loretta Lynch: We have to focus on growing the next group of people who are going to join the political discourse, and in fact wield that power at a local level. I think it’s important, because we were blessed for eight years. We had a wonderful president. He will go down in history as one of our greatest presidents. I was tremendously proud to work for him. But politics is about more than who the president is. Law enforcement is about more than who the Attorney General is. It’s so much more than that. What we were trying to do is to travel across the country and empower local voices, to highlight people who are dealing with these issues in communities at the grassroots level. And we were trying to lift their voices up, amplify them, and share them with the nation. Those voices are still out there.This is a little book which exudes eloquence and honesty. Another example:Bryan Stevenson: Well, it’s sort of funny. We’re doing this cultural work, and for me it’s been very energizing, because I went to South Africa, and what I experienced there was that people insisted on making sure I understood the damage that was done by apartheid. When I talked to Rwandans, you can’t spend time in Rwanda without them telling you about all of the damage done by the genocide. I go to Berlin, and you can’t go a hundred meters without seeing those markers and monuments that have been placed near the homes of Jewish families that were abducted during the Holocaust. The Germans want you to go to the Berlin Holocaust Memorial. And then I come to this country, and we don’t talk about slavery. We don’t talk about lynching. We don’t talk about segregation. And so, our project is really trying to create a new landscape. I never thought during my law practice that I’d be spending so much time working on a museum, but our museum is called “From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration.” We have to get people to understand the damage that was done to this country with this legacy.We kidnapped 12 million Africans. Kidnapped them. Brought them across the ocean in this torturous journey. Killed millions of them. Held them in captivity for centuries. And we haven’t acted as though we did anything wrong. We must increase a consciousness of wrongdoing: lynching over four thousand people, taking black people out of their homes, burning them alive, hanging them from trees, brutalizing them, causing one of the largest mass migrations in the history of the world, when 6 million black people fled the American South for the North and West as refugees and exiles from terror. And then segregation: saying to black children every day, “You can’t go to school because you’re black. You can’t vote because you’re black.” And we haven’t really developed any shame about this history. So what I want to do is, I want to increase the shame index of America. Because we do a lot of things great—we do sports, we do all that stuff. But we don’t do mistake very well. We don’t apologize very well.And if you don’t learn to be shameful about shameful misbehavior, you’ll keep doing that behavior over and over again. I think if you say, “I’m sorry,” it doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong. You show me two people who’ve been in love for fifty years, and I’ll show you two people who’ve learned how to apologize to one another when they get into trouble. I think we have to create that cultural moment where apologizing becomes okay. And part of the reason why we don’t want to talk about this history, is we’ve become such a punitive society. Most people think, well, if we talk about slavery, lynching, segregation, someone is going to have to get punished. And I just want to say to people, “I don’t have any interest in punishing America for its past.” I represent people who have done really terrible things. I’m not interested in prioritizing punishment. I want to liberate us. I want to get to the point where we can say, “That was bad and that was wrong and we need to get to someplace that’s better!” I want to deal with this smog created by our history of racial inequality, so we can all breathe something healthy, feel something healthy.All in all, this is a great book to read for injecting some much-needed voices that are not likely to be aired over mainstream media.
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  • Sara-Jayne
    January 1, 1970
    A fascinating and candid discussion between four of America’s leading advocates for racial justice. Very insightful, very provocative. Lots of talk on what it means to construct a narrative, and how that can help or damage a cause. A bit like reading a play, but it’s all real life. Definitely recommended.
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  • Jade
    January 1, 1970
    Based on a roundtable conversation held in early 2017 by Sherrilyn Ifill (president of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund (LDF)), Loretta Lynch (former Attorney General of the US), Bryan Stevenson (executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy), and Anthony C. Thompson (professor of clinical law and faculty director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU School of Law), A Perilous Path is a written record of a discussion on race and inequa Based on a roundtable conversation held in early 2017 by Sherrilyn Ifill (president of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund (LDF)), Loretta Lynch (former Attorney General of the US), Bryan Stevenson (executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy), and Anthony C. Thompson (professor of clinical law and faculty director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU School of Law), A Perilous Path is a written record of a discussion on race and inequalities in the US and how the 2016 election pushed us to face the fact that we have so much more work to do. The discussion took place in early 2017, not long after Trump was inaugurated as president, just after the first episode of the despicable “Muslim Ban”. I don’t think I have ever muttered “Oh my gosh THIS” under my breath as much as I did reading this book, or highlighted as much text as I did so that I could go back to it again and again. More than just a discussion on the current state of civil rights, equality, and oppression in the US in the light of a Trump presidency, A Perilous Path is a resounding conversation on what we need to do to make real, lasting change in this country. I took a lot of all of the participants’ comments, experiences, and ideas to heart, with the aim on doing my own part to lay a better foundation for now and the future.I thought the ongoing theme of “changing the narrative” was a profoundly important one, as it pertains to all areas of social life in this country. We can’t continue with the current narrative of fear and exclusion, and also one of selective memory. We need to have these types of roundtable discussions at a local level, involve kids and teenagers, and MAKE the changes. Bryan Stevenson: “[…] The people who were holding the signs that said “segregation forever” and “segregation of war,” they were never forced to put down those signs. They didn’t wave them around anymore, but they kept adhering to their value. And now we are living at a time where that thriving narrative of racial difference, that ideology of white preference, has exhibited itself, and now we are dealing with the consequences of that. We won the election in 2008, but we lost the narrative battle. We actually allowed that president to be demonized and victimized and marginalized because he’s black - not because of anything he said or did. And our comfort with that kind of demonization is, I think, at the heart of the challenge we face.”The conversation is highlighted by a personal and historical background with the civil rights movement, poverty, segregation, and the laws that govern us all, and lays out how systemic racism will not change without real involvement and initiative from all areas, grassroots to the top. Topics such as affordable housing and discrimination, education discrimination, marginalization of immigrants, and policing are also evoked, as well as how important it is to understand how we can use the law to help change the narrative.A Perilous Path is an extremely important read, very eye-opening, and also very inspiring. I finished reading this the outline of a personal plan of what I can do to change the narrative. I hope you will too.Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an advance copy of this book.
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  • Dora Okeyo
    January 1, 1970
    This, right here is what I call, truth. Truth has power and with that kind of power, it has the ability to create a paradigm shift that's needed today, not just in the American society but in every society.My motive for reading this book is very selfish and personal. I admire Loretta Lynch and have read as much as I can about her and especially when the whole Policing Reform was being initiated in New York, and when I saw that she was part of the conversation that is this book, I had to read it This, right here is what I call, truth. Truth has power and with that kind of power, it has the ability to create a paradigm shift that's needed today, not just in the American society but in every society.My motive for reading this book is very selfish and personal. I admire Loretta Lynch and have read as much as I can about her and especially when the whole Policing Reform was being initiated in New York, and when I saw that she was part of the conversation that is this book, I had to read it off NetGalley. I am glad that I get to share my honest views on it after soaking up every word. Now I want to buy myself a paperback copy because their discussion pointed out the power of a narrative and I am challenged to look into that and explore what impacts it's had in Kenya in terms of shaping our political affiliations. I'd recommend this book first to Americans because it comes at a time when the rights of others do not seem to come first, and with a president lacking a modicum of control and empathy, and utter disregard of the constitution "government of the people, by the people and for the people" seems like a dream that's got to be actualized. I'd recommend it second to every reader because we are citizens of nations that have laws, social challenges and issues with the justice system and this book provides insights on slavery in America, Prosecution and Poverty and you get to understand the role "the voice of the person" plays in shaping a narrative.
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  • Jennifer Vogel
    January 1, 1970
    This book isn't a typical nonfiction piece - it's the transcript of a roundtable discussion on racism, inequality, law, public infrastructure, and more in the past, present, and the future, by 4 learned minds - the head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, a former attorney general of the United States, a bestselling author and lawyer, and a star professor of clinical law. I read this after the wonderful So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, which gives a lot of education and direction for This book isn't a typical nonfiction piece - it's the transcript of a roundtable discussion on racism, inequality, law, public infrastructure, and more in the past, present, and the future, by 4 learned minds - the head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, a former attorney general of the United States, a bestselling author and lawyer, and a star professor of clinical law. I read this after the wonderful So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo, which gives a lot of education and direction for white people to unpack their own racism, classism, ableism, etc. It was a great follow up to her book. SYWTTAR was about recognizing and how to unpack it and break it down on a personal level, how to talk to others about race.A Perilous Path is a vision for the future. It says, "Here are the issues. Here are the facts. Here's what we can do to work on fixing it." Each contributor visits the problems from different angles, but they're all good and worthwhile and useful suggestions, while also saying they don't have all the answers. It was an eye-opening read for the weekend before Martin Luther King, Jr Day.
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  • TheReadingLawyer
    January 1, 1970
    A Perilous Path is an informative discussion on race and its effect on the law that should be read by everyone. In the current political climate, this book is more relevant than ever. As readers, we are lucky enough to have access to this discussion as the Trump presidency continues to move forward. Regardless of the federal government, the citizens of the United States must fight for the rights of all citizens and be cognizant of our past as well as aware of our future. This book is a must read A Perilous Path is an informative discussion on race and its effect on the law that should be read by everyone. In the current political climate, this book is more relevant than ever. As readers, we are lucky enough to have access to this discussion as the Trump presidency continues to move forward. Regardless of the federal government, the citizens of the United States must fight for the rights of all citizens and be cognizant of our past as well as aware of our future. This book is a must read for all and a great jumping off point for a further dive into justice in America.I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for this review. This does not affect my review, my opinion of the book or any such related content.
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  • Alisse
    January 1, 1970
    This is a published conversation between the four headlining authors—lots of reflection on the current state of US government, justice issues like mass incarceration, redlining, racism. I found the dialogue helpful, although many of the statistics were familiar. I think for anyone not familiar with how systemic racism is currently affecting our country, this is a much-needed read. I’d be interested to know if there will be an audiobook—the format obviously would work well, but is the conversatio This is a published conversation between the four headlining authors—lots of reflection on the current state of US government, justice issues like mass incarceration, redlining, racism. I found the dialogue helpful, although many of the statistics were familiar. I think for anyone not familiar with how systemic racism is currently affecting our country, this is a much-needed read. I’d be interested to know if there will be an audiobook—the format obviously would work well, but is the conversation already available publicly? Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary review copy.
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  • Shana
    January 1, 1970
    Shortly after 45 was elected president, four African-American scholars and racial justice advocates came together for a discussion that then became this short and informative book. These are people who are extremely well-versed in the issues facing our society today and who have been at the forefront of many a good fight for justice. Their insight, recommendations, and hope provide a boost of motivation and inspiration during a time where many feel hopeless.
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  • S
    January 1, 1970
    Brilliant & Eye Opening read. This book is the much needed voice which America needs currently and no mainstream media would dare to speak about it. It’s honest , eye opening and very inspiring. A must read!
  • Jerry Kinard
    January 1, 1970
    I was somewhat disappointed. This book can easily be read in one sitting. The book is essentially an interview with the three of the leading voices in America fighting against racial injustices. I expected more. Bryan Stevenson was excellent as always.
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  • Krystal
    January 1, 1970
    This illuminating discussion should be read by all as these brilliant minds reach new depths in their interrogation of white supremacy, colonialism, policing, discrimination, public housing, etc.
  • Deborah Shaw
    January 1, 1970
    It was very interesting. More people need to read this book and/or get involved in their communities.
  • Amanda
    January 1, 1970
    tl;dr Review:A brilliant read that not only lays out the issues intertwined with race, inequality, and the law but provides the groundwork for how we can make things better.Full Review:Do you ever read certain books and at different parts just have to sit back and be like “Holy shit” or even the more succinct “Damn”?That’s how I felt at various points while reading this transcript of the discussion held between Sherrilyn Ifill, Loretta Lynch, Bryan Stevenson, and Anthony C. Thompson. Outside of tl;dr Review:A brilliant read that not only lays out the issues intertwined with race, inequality, and the law but provides the groundwork for how we can make things better.Full Review:Do you ever read certain books and at different parts just have to sit back and be like “Holy shit” or even the more succinct “Damn”?That’s how I felt at various points while reading this transcript of the discussion held between Sherrilyn Ifill, Loretta Lynch, Bryan Stevenson, and Anthony C. Thompson. Outside of Lynch and maybe Ifill, these names may or may not ring a bell. To provide some context, Ifill is the president of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Lynch was the former US Attorney General, Stevenson wrote the book I keep meaning to read (Just Mercy) about the death penalty and is the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative. Last, but not least, Thompson is a professor of clinical law at NYU’s School of Law and is the faculty director at their Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law.Suffice it to say that these people know about which they speak (unlike certain other current “leaders” of our country). Though my time in law school shined a light on the systematic racism and inequity in our laws and how they are applied, this book took that knowledge one step further.Not only did this book break down a variety of issues, but it also highlighted the personal and historical experiences of major events like the civil rights movement and segregation, as well as ongoing problems such as poverty and our current legal framework that’s steeped in racism. The book even went further and talked about housing discrimination, the xenophobia currently plaguing our country, how we handle policing, and more as it laid out how these themes are all inextricably linked.Thankfully, the authors didn’t just provide us the history and knowledge of the ongoing problems. There’s also plenty of discussion on why being informed is critical in these times, but also how we can change things.While not exactly a light and breezy read, it’s an impactful and important one and I highly recommend it.I give this book 5 out of 5 thumbs up.
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