This Is the Fire Book Summary - This Is the Fire Book explained in key points
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This Is the Fire summary

Don Lemon

What I Say to My Friends About Racism

4 (28 ratings)
19 mins
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    This Is the Fire
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    George Floyd’s murder and the mass protests that followed marked a shift for America.

    During the summer of 2020, while America grappled with COVID-19, a horrific video went viral on social media and instigated almost 5,000 protests across the country. The video showed a white police officer kneeling on the neck of an African American man named George Floyd for over eight minutes. The 46-year-old slowly, and painfully, lost his life.

    Millions of people, Black and white, took to the streets in response to the video. These weren’t the first Black Lives Matter protests, but they were the biggest, and most intense. The visuals of George Floyd’s murder highlighted the disregard for Black lives in a way that few could deny. And in the author’s opinion, this was a turning point for the country.

    The key message here is: George Floyd’s murder and the mass protests that followed marked a shift for America.

    For the author, the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests were evidence of a moment predicted by the African American writer and activist James Baldwin. Writing about racial injustice in his 1963 book, The Fire Next Time, Baldwin stated that if American society didn’t change, it would eventually face a fire – apocalyptic destruction.

    The author believes that America is now in the midst of this fire, thanks in large part to former president Donald Trump’s racist 2018 election campaign and his careless leadership. While many felt that the country needed a better president, especially during the turbulence of 2020, the author saw Trump’s presidency as necessary. In the same way that symptoms bring attention to a disease, the election of a white supremacist into power forced people to acknowledge America’s racism problem.

    The combination of an ineffective, racist leader and millions of people demonstrating in the streets inspired hope. Like many people, the author sensed the potential for radical change. He describes the moment as “nothing less than the death throes of White supremacy in concert with the birth pangs of racial renaissance.”

    But change is impossible without action. And the author puts forward that people have to make room for ideas they disagree with or find uncomfortable. Different marginalized groups should put aside racism, misogyny, and homophobia to form powerful coalitions. Black people shouldn’t forget the past, but they must be willing to forgive. While white people should educate themselves on the issues at hand. If this doesn’t happen, racism in America will continue to fester.

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    What is This Is the Fire about?

    This is the Fire (2021) highlights the current moment as a turning point for the fight against racism in the United States. Touching on the Trump presidency, police brutality, and the global pandemic, it explores the racist history, structures, and ideas that have long plagued America, and proposes ways of using this moment to create positive change.

    Best quote from This Is the Fire

    This time, our objective has to be bigger than curbing police conduct. This time, it has to be about creating a culture of justice.

    —Don Lemon
    example alt text

    Who should read This Is the Fire?

    • People who want to understand racism in America
    • Those interested in social justice
    • White people looking to become better allies

    About the Author

    Don Lemon is an award-winning journalist and CNN prime-time anchor. He’s covered presidential elections, moderated political town halls, and was a leading voice during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests. Lemon is also an adjunct professor at New York’s Brooklyn College and the author of the 2011 memoir Transparent.

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