Publisher: Beacon Press
Released: August 20, 2019
A manifesto from one of America’s most influential activists which disrupts political, economic, and social norms by reimagining the Black Radical Tradition.
Drawing on Black intellectual and grassroots organizing traditions, including the Haitian Revolution, the US civil rights movement, and LGBTQ rights and feminist movements, Unapologetic challenges all of us engaged in the social justice struggle to make the movement for Black liberation more radical, more queer, and more feminist. This book provides a vision for how social justice movements can become sharper and more effective through principled struggle, healing justice, and leadership development. It also offers a flexible model of what deeply effective organizing can be, anchored in the Chicago model of activism, which features long-term commitment, cultural sensitivity, creative strategizing, and multiple cross-group alliances. And Unapologetic provides a clear framework for activists committed to building transformative power, encouraging young people to see themselves as visionaries and leaders.
“Charlene Carruthers carries the burden, the beauty, the wisdom of four hundred years of Black struggle. But she also brings a critical perspective and a creative vision, rooted in her extensive experience as an organizer and organic intellectual and in her fierce and fearless commitment to truth. This is an inspiring, powerful, but difficult book, because she confronts our movements, our people, our closeted silences, toxic masculinity, patriarchal violence, romantic and selective historical memory, and our future head-on, through a radical Black queer feminist lens. Welcome to the Black radical tradition.”
—Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
“This brilliant and powerful book is a clarion call to keep alive the Black radical tradition in these reactionary times. Charlene A. Carruthers is an exemplary organic intellectual rooted in the struggles of black poor and working people, especially LGBTQ youth, with a subtle analysis and an international vision for freedom. She stands in the great lineage of Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Marsha P. Johnson—grand fighters and great lovers of everyday black people and oppressed folk everywhere!”
—Dr. Cornel West
“Unapologetic serves as our marching orders. Charlene gives us not just a manual but a prayer, an intention, a critical path forward, and a deep analysis on where we’ve been. She educates us about community violence and state violence, and provides the clarity to show why Black liberation is crucial for us all.”
—Patrisse Khan Cullors, coauthor of When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir
“Unapologetic is as much a narrative about collective youth-driven organizing by those affiliated with the current Movement for Black Lives as it is a story about how one young Black woman from the South Side of Chicago found herself leading one of the most consequential formations of the past decade. The book offers practical tips for organizers along with a critical analysis of the promise and pitfalls of this current iteration of the Black radical tradition. As an organizer, I found myself nodding along as I read this terrific book while taking notes to improve my own practice.”
—Mariame Kaba, founder of Project NIA and cofounder of Survived & Punished
“Charlene Carruthers speaks with the authenticity and authority of an organizer from the front lines of struggle. Cut from the cloth of the South Side of Chicago, Carruthers offers a critical perspective into the experience of organizing and building a movement from the inside. As an organizer, Charlene provides rare insight into the strategies, tactics, and raging debates that animate the phenomenon of Black Lives Matter. If you want to understand this movement and the people whose hands are dirty from working with the grassroots, then you need this book.”
—Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation