To many in the age of Obama, America had succeeded in "going beyond race", putting the divisions of the past behind us. And then 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot by a wannabe cop in Florida; and then 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; and then Baltimore blew up; and then gunfire shattered a prayer meeting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. Suddenly the entire country awakened to a stark fact: African Americans - particularly young black men - are an endangered species.
Now the country's urban war zone is brought powerfully to life by a rising young literary talent, D. Watkins. The author fought his way up on the east side (the "beast side") of Baltimore, Maryland - or "Bodymore, Murderland" as his friends call it - surviving murderous business rivals in the drug trade and equally predatory lawmen. Throughout it all, he pursued his education, earning a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University, while staying rooted in his community. When black residents of Baltimore finally decided they had had enough - after the brutal killing of 25-year-old Freddie Gray while in police custody - Watkins was on the streets when the city erupted. He writes about his bleeding hometown with the razor-sharp insights of someone who bleeds along with it. Here are true dispatches from the other side of America.
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