... a timely, heartfelt book that uses history to slice our nation open and show how racism is a sickness that has shaped our culture and society in a variety of insidious ways ... a hard book to read. Dyson's prose is straightforward and his writing easy to understand, but the sum of what he does is a tough pill to swallow ... There is a lot of history in this book, but it is incredibly timely and current ... Long Time Coming is a fast, cohesive read. Its only flaw is a critique of cancel culture ... In a book full of names of Black martyrs who died because of white supremacy, saying cancel culture is somewhat like it while failing to name a single victim of it diminishes the strength of every previous instance in which white supremacy is shown as an insidious, deadly force ... 'Black. Lives. Matter.' This thought, delivered after pages upon pages of devastating history and herstory, offers readers a healthy dose of hopefulness after a devastating, powerful book.
Some passages in the book are almost poetic, as Dyson riffs from one subject to the next and from the historical to the contemporary with the improvisational flair of a jazzman. But some other sections raise eyebrows ... In other places, Dyson relies more heavily on the big truth of narrative rather than the narrower, often complicated truth revealed by individual facts ... Dyson stands on firmer ground when his book offers ways to reimagine the police by parceling some of their unceasing responsibilities to social service agencies and when he calls out the tyranny of cancel culture.
Dyson interweaves the history of American slavery, highlighting the manner in which the vestiges of this institution continue to oppress African Americans economically and to subjugate their bodies. But this recounting does not go without the joy note—Dyson also tells of Black resistance to slavery and Jim Crow through rebellion, protest and the court system ... Dyson...writes with sermonic elan, but Long Time Coming avoids religious dogma. The knowledge of America’s original sin remains before the reader from prelude to postlude, but not without the awareness that Dyson is laboring toward the necessary reform. Beyond this, the language is accessible to a wide audience and offers a healthy launch pad for newcomers to the world of social justice. Pithy epitaphs from literary and historical figures head each of the seven chapters and serve to prime the reader for the eloquence to come.