We Gon' Be Alright

by Jeff Chang

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

We Gon' Be Alright is a nonfiction book by Jeff Chang. The author has written about hip hop and African American and Asian American cultures in his past publications, as well as about contemporary American politics. What's first noticeable about the book is the title itself, which are lyrics from the song "Alright" by American hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar. The song that inspired Chang's title is considered the unofficial anthem of the Black Lives Matter movement and is frequently heard being played or chanted at Black Lives Matter protests.

In particular, the song and that specific line—"we gon' be alright"—has become a sort of mantra for black American political activists during a time of increased racial tension and frequent police-involved shootings of black citizens in the United States. Chang's book details these events and discusses how they collectively form a singular political movement in twenty-first-century America. However, Chang also touches upon the social, political, and economic struggles of other minorities, such as Latinos and Asian Americans. Being a person of color himself, Chang also offers up his personal experiences with racism and trying to climb up the socioeconomic ladder, which he believes is inherently controlled by the white elite.

Chang attempts to paint—through research, reporting, and poetic prose—a wide-angle image of America's history of institutional racism. Chang then attempts to deconstruct systemic racism to gain a microscopic view of how it came to be, and, more importantly, how it affects minorities in their daily lives.

The book's style of writing is a mixture of in-depth reporting and personal essays. Chang, who has written in such a style before in his critically-acclaimed book Can't Stop Won't Stop, is able to masterfully balance factual documentation of real-world events while articulating his political philosophy. The book faithfully documents the political and racial tensions of present-day America.

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