You Mean It or You Don’t: James Baldwin’s Radical Challenge

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Jamie McGhee and Adam Hollowell began critically and reflexively reading James Baldwin’s work in 2012, in the aftermath of the murder of Trayvon Martin and the ensuing movement to assert the dignity and importance of Black lives.

Drawing on their own perspectives as a queer Black woman (McGhee) and a White Southern man (Hollowell), they began writing their reflections on what it means to stand up for racial justice in keeping with Baldwin’s bold challenge to take action and make a difference. What emerged from the decade-long project is You Mean It or You Don’t, a collection of essays that offers a lens to pivotal moments of Baldwin’s life as a writer, thinker, and moral philosopher best known for incisive take about race and Blackness in America.

I started reading the book after a pointedly wearying work day, and I felt reinvigorated in my dedication to continuing the work toward liberation. Anyone who has engaged with Baldwin’s work in different ways will appreciate the authors’ reflections on the essence of his writing, art, and life’s work, which speak courageously about justice. McGhee and Hollowell make an impassioned case for how Baldwin’s enduring words about the radical moral challenge of ending racism are the right fuel for action that we need in these times.


Reviewed By:

Author Jamie McGhee
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 196 pages
Publisher Broadleaf Books
Publish Date 14-Jun-2022
ISBN 9781506478944
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue June 2022
Category Biographies & Memoirs
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