This memoir, dedicated to the mothers of the Black Lives Matter movement, and set against the stories of unarmed black men and women who were victims of excessive use of force and racial bias, documents Liuzzi Hagan’s journey of learning about race in America. She is white; her husband is black. Their relationship spans over forty years. She reveals personal stories, ranging from microaggressions to the truly terrifying, and offers suggestions based on her personal experience to dismantle systemic racism and change the race narrative to make America safer and egalitarian for everyone. This is a story of shock, outrage, heartbreak, forbearance, love, and hope for her family, for the families who lost loved ones to racially motivated violence, and for America.
Plot: Although the author's recounting of several high-profile killings of black men and teens, along with her personal feelings concerning these acts, is told with vivid emotion and will spark discussion and high-level thinking among readers, the real meat of this memoir lies in Hagan's own story and experiences with her husband. However, the couple's 40-year journey is lost in the reporter-like overview of racism in America.
Prose: This well-written book is a documentary of the racism, bigotry, fear, and frustration that permeates America today. The author's polished prose is easy to follow. The bits of memoir Hagan does include about her life as a white partner in an interracial marriage are compelling, leaving readers hoping for more.
Originality: This memoir's title suggests that the book is about how the Black Lives Matter movement came to fruition. However, the book veers from this expected storyline and takes a detailed look at the tragic, racist killings of innocent black individuals.
Character Development: The author paints a vivid picture of her outrage and sorrow at the endless cycle of racial fear and hatred in America. However, the book lacks that "in-your-face" personal quality with which it teases the reader.
Date Submitted: August 21, 2018
ByApapaon January 12, 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
I want to make 2018 my year of empathy, compassion, understanding and action. Tor those of you who share the same desire....the author's personal story of her front row seat to the present race relations in America should be your first read of the new year.
I read it over the holidays and couldn't put it down. At the conclusion of my read, I was filled with grief, outrage, and a renewed hope and love for my country. Even though the author's personal political convictions were front and center I believe reader's on both sides of the political aisle will be moved and challenged by what Ms. Hagan had to say.
I recommend this book highly with love................
ByDouglas Van Aartsenon January 18, 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
I'm conflicted about this book. On the one hand it is a powerful message and one a lot of white Americans haven't heard or have ignored. She makes a terrific case for the pervasive quality of white privilege in America. She doesn't lay the blame at any one overt conspiracy. She does see some organization, but she lays a good share of the blame on people, especially whites, who close their eyes to what is happening all around them. She sees the problems of race relations in the U.S. as deteriorating with little hope for any reversal, especially under the Trump administration. It is well documented and I doubt that there's any "fake news" in it. On the other hand her message seems too simplistic. She sees white American treatment of African Americans, especially the last 20 years, as all but universally wretched and self serving. She sees even the effort to move to a more nuanced position as blatant racism. I gave the book (for me) a very unusual 5 stars so as to encourage more readers, but if I were to rate that simply on its literary merits I think I would move to 3 stars. I found that much of the book seems to alternate between screaming, whining, and crying. It was obvious that this was a kind of compilation of blog posts and that probably accounts for the overly emotional tone of this. That said, I would recommend that white Americans everywhere read this and respond with empathy to the problem that she so passionately addressed.
5.0 out of 5 stars hope and love. She challenges her readers to think
June 4, 2018
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
An old proverb says that to understand a man, you must first walk a mile in his shoes. As a white American, it is difficult to truly understand how and why race based gun violence specifically, and racism in general, impacts and shapes the black community. Hagan, as a white woman, acknowledges this difficulty. However, as part of an interracial marriage for over four decades, she has a unique vantage point to view its effects. By sharing her experiences as both a wife and mother, she gives readers concrete personal examples of how the tragedy of Trayvon Martin and others had a profound impact on her family's view of life in America. Her stories are genuine and filled with passion, and more importantly, hope and love. She challenges her readers to think, and more importantly, to act differently, to use love and compassion to help erase the vestiges of race based inequality in America.
Carolyn B Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars
February 23, 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
I rest better at night and believe more passionately in the power of love because of people like Dianne Liuzzi Hagan, a writer from Syracuse, New York, who currently resides in my hometown, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her adult life since college (where she met her husband Ron of 40 years) has been lived in consciousness of her American whiteness and its privileges: Ron is black; they have mixed race adult twin daughters.
Liuzzi Hagan’s 2017 published book of essays, To the Mothers of the Movement, With Love (Amazon.com) judiciously and painstakingly recounts the tragic loss of young black lives in America (exacerbated through the years of our nation’s first black presidency, televised), while she mourns with the Mothers and Families of the Movement, underscoring the indecency of America’s willful abandonment of criminal justice on behalf of our slain black sons and daughters.
Dianne takes up this mantle, actualizing, authenticating, and decrying the social injustices perpetrated on young blacks, urging us all to speak, to act, to live in harmony, forward, toward our shared destiny. We must reverse policies which allow for these deadly transgressions to continue with impunity.
Liuzzi Hagan’s conversation with us throughout Mothers is nicely balanced for differing perspectives, her outrage often muted, considering the factual consciousness of her terror in American blackness, whether in public accompanied by her husband or apart in terror for him.
She preaches her loudest truth through the power of their lasting love.
This is outstanding, therapeutic writing that resonates, immortalizes to souls unborn and through spirits departed. I found healing in these pages, felt tremendous gratitude, like Dianne, to have eluded the constant terror, which caught these dear Mothers, for another day!
The ending is abrupt, but I get that. The future’s up to us, to believe in, to work toward, together for good.
My Love and Gratitude to the Mothers of the Movement.
To Dianne: Thank you for writing what clearly breaks your heart, continually, to endure. Our sons and daughters are our gifts to the world, and Mothers ennobles them, us, and all humankind.
Thanks for letting the record show.
5.0 out of 5 starsRelevant and Bold depiction of race relations in American
Bybrian deciccoon April 2, 2018
Format: Kindle Edition
In this "Make America Great Again" era, Lutz's bold collection of essays could not be more timely. As one half of a biracial couple, her unique perspective of both white and black America offers a startling depiction of xenophobia, bigotry and racism. From national events to her and her family's personal struggles, Lutz collection of essay reads as a blow by blow in a gruesome boxing match. Yet through it all there is an underlying sense of hope and humanity that America may find its way through these dark Trump times.
5.0 out of 5 starsDianne Liuzzi Hagan's storytelling style is captivating. The book ...
February 11, 2018
Dianne Liuzzi Hagan's storytelling style is captivating. The book is a poignant reminder that the fight for equality in our country is ongoing. Her perspective is refreshing and honest, which makes the book so enjoyable. Helping people understand the complexities of racism in a relatable way, when it isn't "their problem", can be difficult to accomplish. Liuzzi-Hagan's book puts it right where the reader can get it! I am recommending the book to everyone in my personal and academic circles.
5.0 out of 5 starsAm I a Racist?
ByPhyllis M. Gropp on May 30, 2018
Uniquely situated as a white woman and scholar married happily to a smart, sensitive African American man, Ms Hagan lays out proof that many Americans are unaware of their racism. That many white people with a bias boast that they are totally fair-minded, even after telling a racist joke. The author gives an even-handed explanation of what American blacks suffer in ordinary interactions, injuries to their dignity and self image, wounds to their onlooking children. Nor does she shy away from the topic of needless shootings by officers of the law. Hagan keeps her reporting unsentimental, purely factual. Admirably, the author offers lists of actions that caucasians could employ to bridge the great social divide and to push for equal justice. A white reader myself, I was led to examine my thoughts and assumptions on race. The kind of reflection that Hagan encourages is soul-enriching and honest.
I’ll admit I’m a little biased because I've known Dianne and her husband, Ron, for 40 years, since we were student workers at university. I’ve always found Dianne’s writing engaging, her craft earning her an MFA; she's also thoughtful, politically astute and impassioned, all of which comes across in her writing. This book revises and updates entries from her blog on race and politics: Dianne is white, her husband Black; they are parents to twin daughters. A little of memoir mixed with discussion of race in the United States, outrage powers some of this book, as does fear, as does hope.
While the book sometimes falls into lecture, it’s really a call for empathy, understanding and discussion of race founded in good will, and stands as a record of the stresses and fears raised almost daily when the actions of a society and its avatars (the police, government officials) built by and for whites speak and act based on stereotypes of color.
In October 2016 Dianne and Ron stop at a restaurant for lunch and a moment later a group of Black women enter, the mothers of Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, among others. It’s a catalyzing moment. Dianne couldn’t bring herself to speak to Sybrina Fulton, Gwen Carr, Lucia McBath, Geneva Reed-Veal and Maria Hamilton, afraid she would break down, but To the Mothers of the Movement, With Love is her way of adding her voice to theirs.
For me the most powerful moments are those when Dianne reflects on her family’s experiences, individually and together, as when on an otherwise pleasant night at a movie theater Dianne and Ron cross a parking lot and a carload of teens swerve toward them yelling racial obscenities.
Dianne’s voice comes across strongly because she talks to, not over or at the reader. Occasionally it’s not a strength: Toward the end, her anxiety for the safety of her family is almost palpable and her despair at recent events and the statements of public officials nearly overwhelming, and she leans toward hectoring. So her book is not perfect. Being a sequence of blog entries gives the book a patched together feel and leads to repetition of thoughts and ideas. But some of the repetition leads to restatement that deepens Dianne’s case against racism and its consequences. There is frustration and outrage here stemming from decades of watching race relations seem to get better then deteriorate, of watching attempts at discussion get side-tracked into defensiveness and recrimination, but also a constant reminder of the human lives at the center of the issues. Those moments when the argument comes closest to her illustrate the effects of institutional and systemic racism on its targets and that she insists on presenting those targets as specific humans not “those people,” makes the behavior more blatantly and obviously heinous.
Uncomfortable reading but necessary, imperfect but honest, a record of anxiety inspired by our times, To the Mothers of the Movement, With Love is another reminder both of the people behind the issues, and of the fear and distrust fostered by those in authority when their behavior is motivated by abstractions of race rather than recognition of the humanity of others.
This book is a page-turner and a pleasant read. The author endeavors to have a frank discussion about race and racism in America, and succeeds. Though it is dedicated to those mothers who have lost black children at the hands of ill-trained and biased police officers and white vigilantes, it is obviously meant to stir honest discussions among white Americans about systemic racism in America. The author poignantly relates her own experiences as the wife of a black man and the mother of interracial children to current events. Perhaps, this is a perspective that can help bridge the gap between the conflicting views on racism in America. The author also incorporates discussions on the Right Wing's reaction to the election of President Obama. With the rise of the Tea Party and attacks on non white-male minority groups by media outlets such as Fox News and Breitbart, we saw a growing backlash to diversity in America. This culminated in the election of President Trump and now people of color, women, members of the LGBTQ community, and Muslims in America are at increased risk of being ostracized and discriminated against. The author argues that it is incumbent upon white Americans to fight back against this trend. I think that if we can have honest discussions about race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. we stand a chance at making progress towards a more inclusive and less divisive America. This book represents a bold and fearless attempt at that discussion. It has the potential to open minds and challenge unconscious biases. The personal experiences related in this book will undoubtedly give many readers a new and powerful way to process issues that they see in the news each day which, at times, they may become impervious to.