Looking for an authoritative book on how you can make a difference as an anti-racist ally? This book is a must-read!
I receive free electronic advanced reader copies of these books through an arrangement between the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion on NetGalley’s website. I only review books on my blog that I really love.
What Makes an Authoritative Book?
I remember reading Greg Mortenson’s book Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Pakistan and Afghanistan over a decade ago and coming to a startling realization. The best judges of what people need to effect change are the people who want to experience change. If we want to act as an ally, we need to stop interposing our thoughts and feelings and just listen and respond to those who have experienced prejudice, violence, bias, and discrimination.
If we want to do good, we have to drop our do-gooder agendas and read authoritative books, listen to authoritative podcasts, and look at authoritative perspectives. We shouldn’t limit our search to just one person. Especially one person who claims to represent an entire race. We need to seek multiple authorities. This authoritative book by Michael Phillips deserves a place in every ally’s hands.
Wrong Lanes Have Right Turns: A Pardoned Man’s Escape from the School-to-Prison Pipeline and What We Can Do to Dismantle It
By Michael Phillips, WaterBrook, January 2022, 256 pages.
Michael Phillips grew up in Baltimore, MD, in a neighborhood devoid of hope. He experienced the tug and pull of two cultures—the values instilled in him by his Christian family and the lure of dealers, pushers, and drugs. School disappointed him and early on became a graveyard for hope cloaked in bias, prejudice, and low expectations. Phillips calls school the prison pipeline for Black and Brown students.
After losing his scholarship to college, Phillips becomes an entrepreneur. Selling drugs, operating a chop shop, and stashing away money. All the while, attending church and holding a part-time job. He plans on getting out of the business as soon as he reaches his financial goal, but a traffic ticket derails his plans and he ends up imprisoned—and, once again, without hope.
Destined to become another tragic story of a young Black man with potential who falls through the cracks in our society and education systems, Phillips experiences a moment of grace that changes his life forever.
Part memoir, part research on the need for change, this authoritative book is a call to interested allies wanting to uplift minorities.
Why I Loved this Book
While conscientious Christians stumble around wide-eyed (at last) and wonder what to do, Phillips speaks life into their uncertainty. Find a youth who doesn’t have your opportunities and speak life into that youth. Speak words of truth (you have potential, you have the brains to go further and do more, don’t sell yourself short) and learn to ask the right questions.
As an example, Phillips relates the story of a third-grade boy labeled as having a behavior problem. Calvin stood in the corner in his science class because he knew if he sat in his chair, he would fall out. The chair had a loose leg. After getting in trouble for falling out of his chair numerous times (no one asked him why he fell), Calvin just started standing in the corner. And everyone labeled him a behavior problem instead of asking a simple why question. When we ask students what they need, their answers might surprise us. But how often do we ask?
Far from a behavior problem, Calvin knew how to solve problems. He represents the myriad minority students ignored, shuffled aside, and given second-best in the United States. Not just second best in equipment, but second-best attitudes, questions, expectations, and exhortations.
As an educator working with minority high school students, I can see the truth of Phillip’s assertation that “When dreams die, the human spirit dies. The greatest injustice that can be imposed on the human spirit is the termination of its ability to dream, and too often, this takes place during our childhood.”
Two Reasons to Read this Book
By the time they reach me, all too many of my students have had their dreams trampled, and their ability to envision themselves as successful atrophied. I fight an uphill battle against the unkind lies my students have heard about themselves: All Indians are drunks. Indians are lazy. Native Americans get free money from the government.
We all need hope that things will improve. Phillip’s words and experiences serve as a much-needed shot of adrenalin to my tired teacher’s heart. If we all started caring for our village and the precious youngsters, maybe we could nurture hope instead of stomp it out. Maybe we could see scholastic success instead of incarceration. Each adult holds accountability for the success of the generations to come. If we pool our voices together, maybe the tide will lift all the boats—not just the yachts.A must-read book for educators and allies who want to uplift all youth instead of continuing the school-to-prison pipeline. @OfficialMP74 @WaterBrookPress #WrongLanesHaveRightTurns #teacher #antiracist Click To Tweet
We all need to learn to ask the right questions. Instead of assuming we know the answers to why a student struggles in school, acts out or shuts down, we need to ask them, “What happened?” What happened to your dreams? Do You have any dreams? How can I help you dream again?
You convinced me, Anita. Going to look for this book! Sounds like a real winner to me. I do want to be a better ally.
I am going to look for this book as we need to challenge ourselves to become better allies. Thank you!