Atria , New York, 2016, pp. 273
African-American Studies scholar and policy analyst Marc Lamont Hill examines the interlocking mechanisms of unregulated capitalism, public policy, and social practice in the US. His work starts recounting one of the most salient event that gave birth to the Black Lives Matter movement: the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. More precisely, the narration spans different periods of time, starting with the grand jury testimony of Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Michael Brown, and then looks back at the 1939 World’s Fair and Le Corbusier’s lofty ideas about urban renewal. It moves forward in time again to the development of the Pruitt-Igoe public housing projects in St. Louis, completed in 1955 and demolished twenty years later, with many of the displaced residents having to move to Ferguson and face a climate of socio-cultural deprivation. Hill terminates his narration in Flint, Michigan, where the American city’s population ended up being poisoned by lead in the water.
Hill’s work is an account of the systematically disadvantaged identities - “those marked as poor, black, brown, immigrant, queer, or trans” – by a system that treats them as nobody, and makes them disposable, vulnerable and invisible. This work has been praised for enriching the contemporary canon of US civil rights literature not only because it captures the systemic nature of inequality in US society, but also because of his positive conclusion on the transformative power of organising, the most recent version of which lies in the Black Lives Matter movement.