Reply to Book Review

-by Nerdface- 

Thanks to David Kennedy for responding to my previous post!

David Kennedy here.

Many thanks for the review and thoughts.

The book doesn’t talk about legalization for the same reason it doesn’t talk about gun control or economic development or fixing urban education: because none of it is going to happen, if at all, on a scale and at a pace that will mean anything anytime soon for these devastated communities. The country is simply not going to legalize heroin and crack. Whether it should or not is another question, but one entirely immaterial to a practical approach to addressing violence and related issues. A core part of the outlook that has led to the Don’t Shoot work is that anything meaningful has to be capable of being done by real, ordinary people using ordinary resources. That’s led away from a lot of the usual discussion to a different set of – thankfully very powerful – approaches.

On the race front, the point is less that the history exists – though in fact a lot of people really don’t understand what it was – than it is that the history has led to a set of very powerful and destructive narratives that the opposing parties don’t understand at all. Most white folks simply can’t comprehend why angry black communities would think that the CIA would conspire to destroy them with drugs. Most folks in angry black communities can’t understand why the police would believe that they’re all living off drug money and don’t care about their kids being killled. What matters to changing the way we see each other and work together is understanding how we’ve gotten from the history to where we are today. The main point of the book on that front is that those narratives hide the fact that on the core issues of violence nearly everybody – communities, cops, and offenders – feels the same way: they’re against it. That common ground is enough on which to build massive, and thankfully rapid, change.

Thanks again,



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