Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Michael Eric Dyson  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1958 in Detroit, Michigan


-- Twitter -- https://mobile.twitter.com/MichaelEDyson
-- Website -- http://www.michaelericdyson.com
-- Michael Eric Dyson on WorldCat -- http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=michael+eric+dyson


Illinois Connection

Dyson was a professor in DePaul University's Religious Studies department.

Biographical and Professional Information

Michael Eric Dyson is an author, a Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University, a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, and is a contributing editor of The New Republic and ESPN’s The Undefeated. Ebony magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential African Americans and one of the 150 most powerful blacks in the nation. He currently resides in Washington, D.C.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Race Rules: Navigating the Color Line
ISBN: 0679781560

Vintage. 1997

"You couldn't ask for a fairer-minded, better-informed, or more enjoyable guide."
--Elle

As a former welfare father who is also an ordained Baptist minister and a Princeton Ph.D., Michael Eric Dyson is one of those rare intellectuals who act not only as interpreters between black and white America but as bridges between the academy and the street. In this brave, bracing, and vastly readable book, he identifies the hidden rules that govern interactions between the races and within black communities, poisoning our language, our politics, and our thinking.

From the O. J. Simpson trial to the generational politics of gangsta rap, and from Colin Powell to Louis Farrakhan, Dyson takes on the most contentious issues of the 1990s. Again and again he shows us that, in a society that prides itself on being color-blind, race is more important--and more pernicious--than ever. Filled with eloquence and erudition, wit and moral common sense, Race Rules is an invaluable guide to the America we really live in as well as a redemptive vision of the one we want for our children.

"Dyson's insightful analysis comes to life on topics ranging from hip-hop culture to black leadership. "
--Atlanta Journal & Constitution

I May Not Get There with You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr
ISBN: 068483037X

Free Press. 2001

A private citizen who transformed the world around him, Martin Luther King, Jr., was arguably the greatest American who ever lived. Now, after more than thirty years, few people understand how truly radical he was. In this groundbreaking examination of the man and his legacy, provocative author, lecturer, and professor Michael Eric Dyson restores King's true vitality and complexity and challenges us to embrace the very contradictions that make King relevant in today's world.

Open Mike
ISBN: 0465017657

Civitas Books. 2002

Here, collected for the first time, are interviews and essays representing Michael Eric Dyson's most important thinking on race and identity. Exploring such topics as "whiteness" as seen through a black man's eye, modernism and postmodernism in black culture, and the emancipating role of black music from the plantation to the ghetto, Open Mike is a perfect introduction to Dyson's work and a must-have for students and scholars in African American Studies and Cultural Studies.

Why I Love Black Women
ISBN: 0465017649

Civitas Books. 2004

In this open love letter to black women everywhere, Michael Eric Dyson celebrates the strength and beauty of African-American women. From Miss James, his grammar school teacher, to Linda Johnson Rice, who heads the communications empire that publishes Ebony and Jet from Toni Morrison, whose novels inspired him, as a young welfare dad, to Debbie Bethea, the housecleaner whose labors remind him of his mother in Detroit from civil rights widow Myrlie Evers-Williams to activist and scholar Angela Davis-and many more-the women in Dyson's pantheon inspire us to remember, "When we love black women, we love ourselves, and the God who made us."

The Michael Eric Dyson Reader
ISBN: 0465017711

Civitas Books. 2004

Acclaimed for his writing on Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Tupac Shakur, and many more, Michael Eric Dyson has emerged as the leading African-American intellectual of his generation. This collection gathers the best of Dyson's vast and growing body of work from the last several years: his most incisive commentary, the most stirring passages, and the sharpest, most probing and broadminded critical analyses. From Michael Jordan to the role of religion in public life, from Toni Morrison to patriotism in the wake of 9/11, the mastery and ease with which Dyson tackles just about any subject of relevance to black America today is without parallel.

Mercy, Mercy Me: The Art, Loves and Demons of Marvin Gaye
ISBN: 0465017703

Civitas Books. 2005

The best-selling Motown artist of all time, Marvin Gaye defined the hopes and shattered dreams of an entire generation. Twenty years after his tragic death-he was shot by his father-his relevance persists because of the indelible mark his outsized talent left on American culture. A transcendent performer whose career spanned the history of rhythm and blues, from doo-wop to the sultriest of soul music, Gaye's artistic scope and emotional range set the soundtrack for America's tumultuous coming of age in the 1970s. Michael Eric Dyson's searching narrative illuminates Marvin Gaye's stellar ascendance-from a black church in Washington, D.C., to the artistic peak of What's Going On?-and charts his sobering personal decline. Dyson draws from interviews with those closest to Gaye to paint an intimate portrait of the tensions and themes that shaped contemporary urban America: racism, drug abuse, economic adversity, and the long legacy of hardship. Gaye's stormy relationships with women, including duet partner Tammi Terrell and wives Anna Gordy and Janis Hunter, are examined in light of the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. Dyson also considers family violence in the larger context of the African-American life and how that heartbreaking legacy resulted in Gaye's murder. Mercy, Mercy, Me is an unforgettable portrait of a beloved black genius whose art is reflected in the dynamism of contemporary urban America.

Pride: The Seven Deadly Sins (New York Public Library Lectures in Humanities)
ISBN: 0195312104

Oxford University Press. 2006

Of the seven deadly sins, pride is the only one with a virtuous side. It is certainly a good thing to have pride in one's country, in one's community, in oneself. But when taken too far, as Michael Eric Dyson shows in Pride, these virtues become deadly sins.

Dyson, named by Ebony magazine as one of the 100 most influential African Americans, here looks at the many dimensions of pride. Ranging from Augustine and Aquinas, MacIntyre and Hauerwas, to Niebuhr and King, Dyson offers a thoughtful, multifaceted look at this "virtuous vice." He probes the philosophical and theological roots of pride in examining its transformation in Western culture. Dyson discusses how black pride keeps blacks from being degraded and excluded by white pride, which can be invisible, unspoken, but nonetheless very powerful. Dyson also offers a moving glimpse into the teachers and books that shaped his personal pride and vocation. Dyson also looks at less savory aspects of national pride. Since 9/11, he notes, we have had to close ranks. But the collective embrace of all things American, to the exclusion of anything else, has taken the place of a much richer, much more enduring, much more profound version of love of country. This unchecked pride asserts the supremacy of America above all others--elevating our national beliefs above any moral court in the world--and attacking critics of American foreign policy as unpatriotic and even traitorous.

Hubris, temerity, arrogance--the unquestioned presumption that one's way of life defines how everyone else should live--pride has many destructive manifestations. In this engaging and energetic volume, Michael Eric Dyson, one of the nation's foremost public intellectuals, illuminates this many-sided human emotion, one that can be an indispensable virtue or a deadly sin.

Holler If You Hear Me (2006)
ISBN: 0465017282

Civitas Books. 2006

With a new preface by the author. Ten years after his murder, Tupac Shakur is even more loved, contested, and celebrated than he was in life. His posthumously released albums, poetry, and motion pictures have catapulted him into the upper echelon of American cultural icons. In Holler If You Hear Me, “hip-hop intellectual” Michael Eric Dyson, acclaimed author of the bestselling Is Bill Cosby Right?, offers a wholly original way of looking at Tupac that will thrill those who already love the artist and enlighten those who want to understand him.

Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?
ISBN: 0465017207

Civitas Books. 2006

Michael Eric Dyson took America by storm with this provocative expose of the class and generational divide that is tearing black America apart. Nothing exposed the class and generational divide in black America more starkly than Bill Cosby's now-infamous assault on the black poor when he received an NAACP award in the spring of 2004. The comedian-cum-social critic lamented the lack of parenting, poor academic performance, sexual promiscuity, and criminal behavior among what he called the “knuckleheads” of the African-American community. Even more surprising than his comments, however, was the fact that his audience laughed and applauded. Best-selling writer, preacher, and scholar Michael Eric Dyson uses the Cosby brouhaha as a window on a growing cultural divide within the African-American community. According to Dyson, the “Afristocracy”—lawyers, physicians, intellectuals, bankers, civil rights leaders, entertainers, and other professionals—looks with disdain upon the black poor who make up the “Ghettocracy”—single mothers on welfare, the married, single, and working poor, the incarcerated, and a battalion of impoverished children. Dyson explains why the black middle class has joined mainstream America to blame the poor for their troubles, rather than tackling the systemic injustices that shape their lives. He exposes the flawed logic of Cosby's diatribe and offers a principled defense of the wrongly maligned black citizens at the bottom of the social totem pole. Displaying the critical prowess that has made him the nation's preeminent spokesman for the hip-hop generation, Dyson challenges us all—black and white—to confront the social problems that the civil rights movement failed to solve.

Debating Race: with Michael Eric Dyson
ISBN: 0465002064

Basic Civitas Books. 2007

Whether chronicling the class conflict in the African-American community or exposing the failings of the government response in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Michael Eric Dyson has never shied away from controversy. No stranger to intellectual combat, Dyson has always been ready to engage friends and foes alike in open conversation about the issues that matter. Debating Race collects many of Dyson's most memorable encounters and most poignant arguments. Dyson shows that he is as eloquent off the cuff as he is on the book page, and Debating Race gives readers a front row seat as he spars with politicians, pundits, and public intellectuals. From John Kerry and John McCain to Ann Coulter and the hosts of television's “The View”-Dyson shows the mental agility and rhetorical tenacity that have made him one of America's most astute intellectuals, and with topics ranging from civil rights, the legacy of the O.J. Simpson trial, and the authenticity of Colin Powell there is something in Debating Race to touch a nerve in all of us.

Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster
ISBN: 046501772X

Civitas Books. 2007

When Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, hundreds of thousands were left behind to suffer the ravages of destruction, disease, and even death. The majority of these people were black nearly all were poor. The Federal government's slow response to local appeals for help is by now notorious. Yet despite the cries of outrage that have mounted since the levees broke, we have failed to confront the disaster's true lesson: to be poor, or black, in today's ownership society, is to be left behind. Displaying the intellectual rigor, political passion, and personal empathy that have won him acclaim and fans all across the color line, Michael Eric Dyson offers a searing assessment of the meaning of Hurricane Katrina. Combining interviews with survivors of the disaster with his deep knowledge of black migrations and government policy over decades, Dyson provides the historical context that has been sorely missing from public conversation. He explores the legacy of black suffering in America since slavery and ties its psychic scars to today's crisis. And, finally, his critique of the way black people are framed in the national consciousness will shock and surprise even the most politically savvy reader. With this clarion call Dyson warns us that we can only find redemption as a society if we acknowledge that Katrina was more than an engineering or emergency response failure. From the TV newsroom to the Capitol Building to the backyard, we must change the way we relate to the black and the poor among us. What's at stake is no less than the future of democracy.

Know What I Mean? Reflections on Hip-Hop
ISBN: 0465017169

Basic Civitas Books. 2007

Whether along race, class or generational lines, hip-hop music has been a source of controversy since the beats got too big and the voices too loud for the block parties that spawned them. America has condemned and commended this music and the culture that inspires it. Dubbed “the Hip-Hop Intellectual” by critics and fans for his pioneering explorations of rap music in the academy and beyond, Michael Eric Dyson is uniquely situated to probe the most compelling and controversial dimensions of hip-hop culture. Know What I Mean? addresses salient issues within hip hop: the creative expression of degraded youth that has garnered them global exposure the vexed gender relations that have made rap music a lightning rod for pundits the commercial explosion that has made an art form a victim of its success the political elements that have been submerged in the most popular form of hip hop and the intellectual engagement with some of hip hop's most influential figures. In spite of changing trends, both in the music industry and among the intelligentsia, Dyson has always supported and interpreted this art that bloomed unwatered, and in many cases, unwanted from our inner cities. For those who wondered what all the fuss is about in hip hop, Dyson's bracing and brilliant book breaks it all down.

April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Death and How It Changed America
ISBN: 0465002129

Civitas Books. 2008

On April 4, 1968, at 6:01 PM, while he was standing on a balcony at a Memphis hotel, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and fatally wounded. Only hours earlier King—the prophet for racial and economic justice in America—ended his final speech with the words, “I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight, that we as a people will get to the Promised Land.”

Acclaimed public intellectual and best-selling author Michael Eric Dyson uses the fortieth anniversary of King's assassination as the occasion for a provocative and fresh examination of how King fought, and faced, his own death, and we should use his death and legacy. Dyson also uses this landmark anniversary as the starting point for a comprehensive reevaluation of the fate of Black America over the four decades that followed King's death. Dyson ambitiously investigates the ways in which African-Americans have in fact made it to the Promised Land of which King spoke, while shining a bright light on the ways in which the nation has faltered in the quest for racial justice. He also probes the virtues and flaws of charismatic black leadership that has followed in King's wake, from Jesse Jackson to Barack Obama.

Always engaging and inspiring, April 4, 1968 celebrates the prophetic leadership of Dr. King, and challenges America to renew its commitment to his deeply moral vision.

Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas's Illmatic
ISBN: 0465002110

Civitas Books. 2009

At the age of nineteen, Nasir “Nas” Jones began recording tracks for his debut album—and changed the music world forever. Released in 1994, Illmatic was hailed as an instant masterpiece and has proven one of the most influential albums in hip-hop history. With its close attention to beats and lyricism, and riveting first-person explorations of the isolation and desolation of urban poverty, Illmatic was pivotal in the evolution of the genre.

In Born to Use Mics, Michael Eric Dyson and Sohail Daulatzai have brought together renowned writers and critics including Mark Anthony Neal, Marc Lamont Hill, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., and many others to confront Illmatic song by song, with each scholar assessing an individual track from the album. The result is a brilliant engagement with and commentary upon one of the most incisive sets of songs ever laid down on wax.

Can You Hear Me Now?: The Inspiration, Wisdom, and Insight of Michael Eric Dyson
ISBN: 0465018831

Civitas Books. 2009

Over the last 20 years, Michael Eric Dyson has become one of America’s most visible—and quotable—public intellectuals. Whether in his sixteen books, or in countless newspapers, television and radio appearances, or on stages, podiums, and pulpits across the world, Dyson has spun an enchanting web of words that has caught the attention of the masses and elites alike. He has weighed in on a myriad array of topics – from faith to fatherhood, and from race to sex, as well as sports, manhood, gender, music, leadership, politics, language, love, justice, literature, suffering, death, hope, relationships and much, much more.

Can You Hear Me Now?, offers a sampling of Dyson’s sharp wit, profound thought, and edifying eloquence on the enduring problems of humanity, from love to justice, and the latest topics of the day, including race and the presidency. It is both revealing and relevant, and at once thoughtful provoking and uplifting. Whether he is writing about Jay-Z or Barack Obama, addressing racial catastrophes or opportunities, or speaking about religion or the felicities of King’s rhetoric, Dyson’s intellect shines with insight and inspiration.

Can You Hear Me Now? captures Dyson’s incredible facility with words, and his prodigious intelligence, at a time when he has gained greater fame as a public intellectual, university professor, best-selling author, and most recently, as one of the first prominent blacks to endorse President Barack Obama. The time is ripe for his wit, wisdom and worldview, and this book is Dyson’s most accessible compendium of thinking on a broad range of topics that haunt and shape the nation.

Black Presidency
ISBN: 0544811801

Mariner Books. 2017

A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice

“A brilliant and complicated portrait of a brilliant and complicated president.”—Salon


Michael Eric Dyson dives deep into the true meaning of Barack Obama’s historic presidency and its effects on the changing landscape of race and blackness in America. How has race shaped Obama’s identity, career, and presidency? What can we learn from his major race speeches about his approach to racial conflict and the black criticism it provokes?

Dyson was granted an exclusive interview with the president for this book, and Obama’s own voice shines through. Along with interviews with Eric Holder, Al Sharpton, Maxine Waters, and others, this intimate access provides a unique depth to this engrossing analysis of the nation’s first black president, and how race shapes and will shape our understanding of his achievements and failures alike.

“Readers will recognize Dyson's practiced flair for language and metaphor as he makes an important and layered argument about American political culture and the narrowness of presidential speech. . . [The Black Presidency] might well be considered an interpretive miracle.”—New York Times Book Review

“Immensely engaging, unflinchingly honest, and appropriately provocative, Michael Eric Dyson proves, once again, that he is without peer when it comes to contextualizing race in twenty-first-century America. . . a must-read for anyone who wants to better understand America’s racial past, present, and future.”—Gilbert King, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Devil in the Grove

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America
ISBN: 1250135990

St. Martin's Press. 2017

NOW A NEW YORK TIMES, PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY, INDIEBOUND, LOS ANGELES TIMES, WASHINGTON POST, CHRONICLE HERALD, SALISBURY POST, GUELPH MERCURY TRIBUNE, AND BOSTON GLOBE BESTSELLER | NAMED A BEST/MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2017 BY: The Washington PostBustleMen's JournalThe Chicago ReaderStarTribune Blavity • The Guardian NBC New York's Bill's Books • Kirkus • Essence

“One of the most frank and searing discussions on race ... a deeply serious, urgent book, which should take its place in the tradition of Baldwin's The Fire Next Time and King's Why We Can't Wait." ―The New York Times Book Review

Toni Morrison hails Tears We Cannot Stop as "Elegantly written and powerful in several areas: moving personal recollections profound cultural analysis and guidance for moral redemption. A work to relish."

Stephen King says: "Here’s a sermon that’s as fierce as it is lucid…If you’re black, you’ll feel a spark of recognition in every paragraph. If you’re white, Dyson tells you what you need to know―what this white man needed to know, at least. This is a major achievement. I read it and said amen."

Short, emotional, literary, powerful―Tears We Cannot Stop is the book that all Americans who care about the current and long-burning crisis in race relations will want to read.

As the country grapples with racist division at a level not seen since the 1960s, one man's voice soars above the rest with conviction and compassion. In his 2016 New York Times op-ed piece "Death in Black and White," Michael Eric Dyson moved a nation. Now he continues to speak out in Tears We Cannot Stop―a provocative and deeply personal call for change. Dyson argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted.

"The time is at hand for reckoning with the past, recognizing the truth of the present, and moving together to redeem the nation for our future. If we don't act now, if you don't address race immediately, there very well may be no future."


Awards

The Black Presidency

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (No)