After four years of Donald Trump’s presidency, it is almost inspiring to read an author who thinks America still has a chance of achieving racial justice ... earnestly concieved ... A former speechwriter for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Johnson writes with lyrical clarity, delivering tales that are by turns heartwarming and heartbreaking ... While this is an enormous moral problem, Johnson is an Obama-like pragmatist and tends to focus on how racism prevents Blacks from accessing the Promise, the distinctly American opportunity to put freedom and liberty to work in pursuit of one’s flourishing ... What kind of solidarity in favor of racial justice can be expected of a nation so unsure of its own moral compass? National solidarity is a lofty ambition, but no matter its earnestness, it will only ever be an ambition as long as a guiding nugget of Black wisdom must prevail — when people tell you who they are, you best believe them.
Johnson, a doctor of law and policy and former U.S. Navy commander, weaves his personal history with that of the nation to show that the personal and political are intertwined for all of us. His book builds a solid foundation for his call for a national solidarity that mixes deliberate democracy, national service, and civic education ... Johnson supports his argument with a mix of stories, both personal and historical, which brings a personal aspect to a work that can be academic at times. While the book covers the same territory as recent works by Isabel Wilkerson and Ibram X. Kendi, Johnson’s particular point-of-view makes his call to action feel like a patriotic duty.