“You don’t fix racism,” an excerpt from the book reads, “You don’t fight it. You don’t make it better. You end it. We learned how to bridge any political or ideological divide—inviting liberals, conservatives, and everyone in between to cocreate a future worth fighting for.”
Ahead of the release, Williams sat down with ESSENCE to discuss what inspired the book, the writing process, and what a post-racism world looks like.
A multi-hyphenate, Williams, who is also a Grammy-nominated recording artist, had already penned a best-selling book, Stay Woke: A Meditation Guide for the Rest of Us in February 2020. He revealed that it all started “after George Floyd was murdered and the world was exploding with social justice books. So, I started reading all the things that were coming out, and I just had this epiphany.”
“I just thought—hold on a second—why does every single book start on the first page or two saying something along the lines of ‘racism is this thing that’s going to be passed down for a lifetime, generation after generation?’” shared Williams.
At the time, Williams was a part of a fellowship program, and he asked the research university: “Can you support me with the tools, in science, anthropology, sociology, and neuroscience to tell me is it actually possible for human beings to end racism?” And the answer was in the affirmative, “but there are current conditions that have to exist in order for that to be possible.”
The decision to partner up with Tygielski was intentional. Williams said, “I can’t just be a Black man speaking to Black liberal people to end racism,” adding “there are perspectives that I couldn’t see that Shelly could. She and I are different generations, she’s straight, I’m gay, she has kids, she’s a mom.”
Williams was extremely excited to divulge that the book is based on science and has been independently researched. For instance, generation wasn’t just a catchy buzz phrase. “A generation is typically considered between 20 to 25 years, and we looked at the massive changes that have happened in humanity within that specific timeline.” He listed off the examples, “In 1973, the first phone call was made on a on a handheld phone and then in 1995, we had widespread use of cell phones, which was 22 years. The first ever creation of the internet was 1991, and then by 2001, we had widespread use.”
“There are so many examples of massive transformations that have happened in the world in the span of about a generation. One of the big myths that keeps us stuck in thinking this has to be lifetimes is this idea that we think racism just can’t end or we just haven’t thought about it ending because we think real change takes a really long time. And it’s just not true that it takes a long time, if we choose as a collective for it not to take a long time,” stated Williams.
To accomplish this herculean feat, the book lays out “if these eight pillars of possibility are present, that’s akin to being at the starting blocks in the race to trying to end racism.” Williams was explicit, “these are not the only eight things that you have to do. Rather, it’s if these eight things exist, then all the work that we do moving forward can actually create a possibility where racism can end.”
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