Make Change: How to Fight Injustice, Dismantle Systemic Oppression… by Shaun King, Bernie Sanders (Foreword), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, US $26, Pp 244, August 2020, ISBN 978-0358048008
Most of us will agree that the United States has become a deeply problematic place. Probably, it has always been a problematic place. It is also a deadly country with growing gun violence. It is one of the ten most dangerous countries in the world for women and fifth most dangerous country in the world for journalists. The good thing is that a section of the American society has always been struggling to change this. One such person is Shaun King. In Make Change, he tells his story of struggle for a better world. Shaun King describes his struggle as “the story of how I finally came to accept that it wasn’t just the might of our enemies but the design of our strategies that keeps us losing. It’s the story of how we finally started winning in our fight for real, substantive, systematic change when we shifted our methods and targets.”
In Make Change, King also tells his readers to get organized and change the society into a beautiful vision. He says that everybody can be an effective change agent. However, in order to be an effective change agent, you need to understand two things: where we are in history and how you, personally can have an impact. He says that we must become effective change agents because neglecting the truths of the past will doom us to repeat them. Change begins with people. However, they must be organized and energized simultaneously and in a meaningful way. While people must be highly energized in order to break through the status quo, if they aren’t quickly organized in deep, meaningful, practical ways, their energy will soon fade, and what could “have blossomed into a movement will dissolve into something much less impactful than that.” He says if we are more energized than we are organized, it will fail even if it is a well-intentioned, good-natured failure but it’s a failure, nonetheless. He writes, “Energized people must organize themselves as if their lives, and the lives of future generations, depend on it. We’re not there yet. We’re not even close.”
The problem starts in the schools where they teach students a form of progressive evolutionary history, thereby instilling in all of us the belief that we, as citizens of the United States, are steadily improving and growing and becoming better people. King argues that when American history is told in a way that goes from beautiful highlights to beautiful highlights, we are left with a narrative that falls somewhere between propaganda and a lie. “It’s the Instagramification of American history — where bad news and setbacks are rarely mentioned and we all just post our most beautiful selfies and pictures and videos of kittens, sunsets, and tasty food. Those things are a part of your real life, sure, but they aren’t a sincere representation of life itself.”
Deep inside each of us is a longing to do good and make a difference in the world. King continues, “But what I have come to learn is that until you make a serious decision about where you’re going to dedicate your time, skills energy, and resources, your efficacy as a changemaker will be limited. Change – I mean real, systemic, lasting change is never accidental.” He says that it emanates first from an individual’s personal decision to stare down a problem in the world and recognize that they will be one of the people out there, working to confront it. That takes guts. It takes character. And that action emerges from a deeply personal place.
Make Change is a gripping, heart-touching memoir of a rights activist. It is a hope-filled plan for change for every American. Shaun King tells the story of his struggle for a better America and the world. Shaun King is unapologetic in speaking the truth about America – America is not, and has not been, the great country we all claim. But it can be turned into a great country with our organized struggle. The message is that we can all make change regardless of our age or gender or ethnicity. This is a book every American must read.