Marc Lamont Hill’s newest book is small and urgent. Focused on the racist roots of the 2020 pandemic and uprising, it is a book about right now, written right now. Hill writes, “It’s not enough just to recount the things that have happened in this crazy year of 2020. We must analyze the deeper conditions and structures that allowed 2020 to happen. . . . We must come to understand everything that brought us here.” Although a book of only 117 pages will not, of course, delve deeply into “everything that brought us here,” it is a kind of primer, surfacing the questions we should ask as we navigate the social realities of Hill’s subtitle: the pandemic, policing, and protest.
We Still Here is actually a dialogue, a series of conversations between French activist Frank Barat and Hill, each neatly housed under provocative chapter titles like “How Shall We Die?,” “Preexisting Conditions,” and “Corona Capitalism.” These chapters, laid out as questions and answers, are high school student-friendly. One thought would be to ask students to compare Hill’s analysis of the uprising or racially disparate impact of the pandemic to an article on the same topic from the Washington Post or New York Times. Students might notice, for example, the way the idea of “comorbidities” invites a deeper understanding of the generational inheritances of white supremacy in the hands of Hill, while sitting inertly as a kind of accident of history on the pages of most mainstream media.
We Still Here by Marc Lamont Hill
Published by Haymarket Books on November 10, 2020
Genres: African American, Criminal Justice
Reading Level: High School
Review Source: Rethinking Schools
Publisher's Synopsis: In the midst of loss and death and suffering, our charge is to figure out what freedom really means — and how we take steps to get there.
"In the United States, being poor and Black makes you more likely to get sick. Being poor, Black, and sick makes you more likely to die. Your proximity to death makes you disposable."
The uprising of 2020 marked a new phase in the unfolding Movement for Black Lives. The brutal killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, and countless other injustices large and small, were the match that lit the spark of the largest protest movement in US history, a historic uprising against racism and the politics of disposability that the Covid-19 pandemic lays bare.
In this urgent and incisive collection of new interviews bookended by two new essays, Marc Lamont Hill critically examines the "pre-existing conditions" that have led us to this moment of crisis and upheaval, guiding us through both the perils and possibilities, and helping us imagine an abolitionist future.