We Matter by Etan Thomas | SLJ Review

Taking advantage of the momentum created when NFL player Colin Kaepernick took a knee, retired NBA player, writer, and activist Thomas explores the work of athlete activists.

redstarTHOMAS, Etan. We Matter: Athletes and Activism. 250p. illus. Akashic. Mar. 2018. Tr $28.95. ISBN 9781617755941.

Taking advantage of the momentum created when NFL player Colin Kaepernick took a knee, retired NBA player, writer, and activist Thomas explores the work of athlete activists. He interviewed more than 50 athletes, sports executives, media professionals, and family members of police brutality victims for this project. The honest conversations, published in transcript form and often accompanied by black-and-white photos, serve as a primer on recent police violence cases, a history lesson on the first athletes who stood up for racial justice, an examination of the experience of being young and black in the United States, and an insightful look at how it feels to lose a loved one to tragedy, from contributors such as Jemele Hill, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Carmelo Anthony. Readers, especially athletes, will be inspired by these powerful role models. White allyship is stressed, and the effects of police brutality on communities is a major theme. Each exchange is prefaced with background—teens can read chapters out of order, and educators can assign individual interviews. Poems written by Thomas and his son are a bonus. VERDICT An important read, executed uniquely. Hand to teens who enjoyed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Becoming Kareem.–Lindsay Jensen, Nashville Public Library This review was published in the School Library Journal July 2018 issue.

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