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Book Reviews
Police Brutality and White Supremacy
By: Etan Thomas - Akashic Books, $18.95

Description: An NBA veteran offers engaging interviews and reflections that explore police brutality, white supremacy, and the struggle for racial justice in America.

Verdict: Here in Police Brutality and White Supremacy: The Fight Against American Traditions, author Etan Thomas, an eleven-year NBA veteran and lifelong advocate for social justice, weaves together his personal experiences with police violence and white supremacy with multiple interviews of family members of victims of police brutality.

Such cases include the exonerated Central Park Five survivor Raymond Santana and Rodney King’s daughter Lora Dene King as well as activist athletes and other public figures such as Steph Curry, Chuck D, Isiah Thomas, Sue Bird, Jake Tapper, Jemele Hill, Stan Van Gundy, Kyle Korver, Mark Cuban, Rick Strom, and many more.

A follow up to his 2018 interview collection, We Matter, with Q&As informed by the turmoil of 2020 and 2021, this new book comes complete with a plethora of similar interviewees and yet this time the conversation seems radically charged.

Through the book, Thomas speaks with retired police officers about their efforts to change policing, and white allies about their experiences with privilege and their ability to influence other white people. Thomas also examines the history of racism, white supremacy, and the prevalence of both in the current moment.

Found within these285 pages are in-depth discussions with regard to George Floyd, defunding the police, the January insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and the intersection of White supremacy and evangelical Christianity.

Now, and as one would fully expect, the overall tone of these interviews, nay these open-ended discussions, is a skeptical one by most all, thus far dissatisfied by the lack of systemic change despite growing media attention.

One topic Thomas dives deeply into are the origins of white supremacy in the US, dating back to the country’s inception, and here he himself explores how it was interwoven into Christianity (the subsequent interviews he proceeds to then share with us, from leading voices both in and outside of the church, thusly allow a sturdy platform for us to plant our elbows on and lean into).

Police Brutality and White Supremacy demands accountability and justice for those responsible for and impacted by police violence and terror. It offers practical solutions to work against the promotion of white supremacy in law enforcement, Christianity, early education, and across the public sphere.

In closing, Police Brutality and White Supremacy: The Fight Against American Traditions is an incredible, simply awe-inspiring new book from someone who has been, and for the most part is still knee deep in the trenches of these battles daily, and featuring prominent voices in the media and education, Thomas manages to amiably bring forth a discussion on the continued cultivation of these injustices in American society for all to inhale; as if it were just quiet, peaceful and non-confrontational chit-chat over breakfast.

Etan Thomas is a former eleven-year NBA player, was born in Harlem and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has published multiple books including: We Matter: Athletes and Activism (voted a top ten best activism book of all time by BookAuthority), More than an Athlete, Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge, and Voices of the Future.

Thomas received the 2010 National Basketball Players Association Community Contribution Award as well as the 2009 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Foundation Legacy Award—both honoring his advocacy for social justice.

He is a senior writer for and a regular contributor to the Guardian and The Undefeated. He can frequently be seen on MSNBC as a special correspondent and cohosts a weekly show with Dave Zirin called, The Collision: Where Sports and Politics Collide.

Official Book Purchase Link