This collection of 29 of his essays lends us the fullest portrait yet between two covers of Kennedy’s thought, and just as much of it fits the mold of Black thought traditionally treated as 'authentic' as does not ... The reason for this cocktail of positions is that Kennedy, as a legal scholar and law professor to the nth degree, is uncompromisingly disinclined to partisanship over reflection. His discipline in this regard is rather awesome ... Kennedy is someone who studiously resists feeling over thinking, and in considerable part for that reason Say It Loud! is not a book most will be inclined to take on vacation ... While Say It Loud! may not always be exciting reading, Kennedy is the kind of writer who gives you the sense that in the end he’s always just plain right ... He assumes progress will be gradual and, one senses, relatively undramatic. And in this, as in almost everything about his views on race in America, Kennedy is both resolutely temperate and probably right.
A note of caution for readers familiar with James Brown’s influential song: Despite its title, Say It Loud isn’t a book about Black pride ... One of the leading authorities on race relations in the United States, Kennedy has a knack for making others’ seemingly sophisticated ideas look immature. And that skill is on full display here ... With his wit, sharpness and compelling prose, Kennedy provides another book that readers will surely appreciate, whether or not they are persuaded by his arguments ... Rather than doubling down on his well-known earlier positions, Kennedy humbly acknowledges his changed opinions after thinking about our messy social relationships for many decades ... Reading Kennedy’s takes on disparate issues across 29 chapters makes the reader wonder whether there is coherency to his positions ... A central thesis of the book appears to be that the volatility of our race relations calls for seemingly contradictory solutions ... For those who come to this book looking for principles for Black empowerment, or even a consistent proposal for tackling the most fundamental social issues of our time, that pronouncement is — well, to quote another classic song from the Godfather of Soul — 'Out of Sight.'
A middle path through America’s racial turmoil is mapped in these trenchant essays ... In a time of polarized racial politics, Kennedy’s closely reasoned and humanely argued takes offer an appealing alternative.