A 2023 Library Journal Best Social Sciences Title
From Library Journal's Starred Review: "All readers stand to learn something from this compelling book."
Award-winning author, scholar, and social visionary George Yancy brings together the greatest minds of our time to speak truth to power and welcome everyone into a conversation about the pursuit of justice, equality, and peace.
This interwoven collection of searingly honest interviews with leading intellectuals includes conversations with Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Cornel West, Robin D. G. Kelley, and Peter McLaren. Each conversation bears witness to the weighty moment in which it was first conducted and presented by Truthout and Tikkun magazines while pointing to ramifications, future hurdles, and practical optimism for moving forward.
Learning how to speak about such topics as white supremacy and global whiteness, xenophobia, anti-BIPOC racism, fear of critical race theory, and the importance of Black feminist and trans perspectives, readers will be better able to join future conversations with their peers, those in power, and those who need to be empowered to change the status quo.
George Yancy is the author, editor, and co-editor of over 20 books, including Backlash: What Happens When we Talk Honestly About Racism in America. He is known for his influential essays and interviews in the New York Times' philosophy column, The Stone. Adding to his many awards in recognitions, in March 2022, Yancy was honored to discover an anonymous muralist known as “Belove” had painted Yancy’s larger-the-life portrait in downtown Denver. Yancy lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where he is professor of philosophy at Emory University.
Introduction: Critical Voices that Refuse to be Silenced
Part 1: Whiteness as Innocence Must Die
Interview with David R. Roediger
Interview with George Yancy by Woojin Lim
Interview with Joe Feagin
Interview with David Kyuman Kim
Part 2: Global Anti-Blackness
Interview with Frank B. Wilderson, III
Interview with Chelsea Watego
Interview with Akwugo Emejulu
Interview with Adele Norris
Part 3: Racism, Education, and Practices of Freedom
Interview with Mari Matsuda
Interview with Pedro A. Noguera
Interview with Peter McLaren
Part 4: Challenging White Foundations
Interview with Robin D.G. Kelley
Interview with Cornel West
Interview with Brian Burkhart
Interview with Tracy Denean Sharpley-Whiting
Part 5: Assaults on the Black Body
Interview with Elizabeth Pryor
Interview with Noam Chomsky
Part 6: Matters of Faith and Religion
Interview with Kelly Brown Douglas
Interview with Mark L. Taylor
Interview with Susannah Heschel
Part 7: The Politics of Catastrophe
Interview with Judith Butler
Interview with Eduardo Mendieta
Part 8: Realizing (or Imagining) the Possible
Interview with Che Gossett
Interview with Joy James
Part 9: White Mob Mentality
Interview with Peniel E. Joseph
Interview with Eric Fonner
About the Contributors
Award-winning Yancy presents this collection of interviews that are replete with ideas and insights about all that the pursuit of justice, equality, and peace entails. The author brings together leading intellectuals and philosophers—Noam Chomsky, Judith Butler, Cornel West, and Eric Foner, for example—to discuss the topic in raw, searing honesty. Author/scholar/activist Frank B. Wilderson III describes the impact of unrelenting oppression against Black people, and there are powerful chapters such as the one called, "To Be Black in the U.S. Is To Have a Knee Against Your Neck Every Day." The book also includes observations by somewhat lesser-known people: author Chelsea Watego; British-based political sociologist Akwugo Emejulu, and Brian Burkhart, and more. Explicitly addressed is the preposterous suggestion that everyone just "move on" from thinking about racism. This book’s contributors say that the only way society can do that is if white people go through some type of kenosis about their prejudices and notions that people do not deserve the same rights. All readers stand to learn something from this compelling book.
George Yancy’s new book Until Our Lungs Give Out: Conversations on Race, Justice, and the Future is not for the faint of heart. The volume, a collection of interviews with leading intellectuals, explores the historical trajectory of whiteness and anti-Blackness and their manifestation in education, healthcare, politics, and religion. The book’s range is as geographically broad as it is intellectually all-encompassing, yet despite what might seem an unwieldy range of topics, there are certain structuring themes—in particular, the persistence of anti-Black racism—that give the volume a coherence of vision and purpose. Perhaps the most impressive characteristic of the text is the diversity—racial, gender, cultural, national, and religious—of its participants. The volume is not dominated by one disciplinary perspective, and as a result, the interviews/dialogues never become one-dimensional or myopic….I highly recommend Until Our Lungs Give Out for anyone who desires to obtain an informative and insightful understanding of a range of urgent issues. The careful reader will enjoy a truly rewarding intellectual experience. Moreover, open-minded white readers need not be offended or made to feel guilty by the powerful critique of American society the book mounts. Following Yancy, I believe that the courageous reader will experience an initially traumatic but ultimately invaluable kenosis.
These stimulating and wide-ranging engagements—from Noam Chomsky and Judith Butler, to Robin Kelley, Mari Matsuda, and Cornel West—remind us of the range and depth of philosophical knowledge that underscores George Yancy’s work as a public intellectual as well as a scholar. This collection of conversations is a must-read for those of us seeking deeper understandings of the complex interactions of race, class, gender, and justice.
Until Our Lungs Give Out is a painfully relevant and indispensable book that brings together world-renowned scholars to collectively demonstrate what it looks like to face the horrors and deep conflicts of the world head on and to speak against them despite the dangers of doing so. As one of our nation's most searingly insightful philosophers, Yancy has prophetically modeled speaking truth in love and has steadfastly refused to sugarcoat the truth no matter the personal cost to him. This collection of critical conversations underscores the hard truth that we have neither been good stewards of the earth nor have we been good neighbors toward each other. We have failed to give the abundance of care that each one of us deserves. Until Our Lungs Give Out bears witness to a cadre of renowned peacemakers (not peacekeepers) who will fight for national and global justice, humanity and peace until their lungs give out.
Many thanks to philosopher and public intellectual George Yancy for this bounty of engaged thought from our foremost thinkers. We need this gift now more than ever—as a source of both perception and hope.
Robin D. G. Kelley poignantly captures the protests for racial justice during the surge in white nationalist retaliations. He states, 'If there is such a thing as the arc of the moral universe, it does not bend on its own. We bend it one way, our enemies bend it back.' George Yancy’s interviews with Kelley and many of the most important thinkers and doers of our times inspire many ways we can go forward from here. These interviews are thought-provoking, forward-thinking, and inspiring about next steps.
Until Our Lungs Give Out is a timely and tremendously important book. It presents thoughtful and thought-provoking conversations between distinguished philosopher George Yancy and a dazzling array of the world’s most profound, original, and generative thinkers about anti-Black racism in the U.S. and around the world.
The title of George Yancy’s new collection of interviews tells it all: he gives voice to the top critical thinkers in today’s struggle against racism and sexism, thinkers who persist in their struggle to the end, until their lungs give out. I’ve never seen a volume which combines multiple perspectives with a united strong commitment to emancipation. Until Our Lungs Give Out gives hope, and hope is what we need in our dark times.
In this set of interviews, George Yancy invites leading intellectuals to tarry with global white supremacy, planetary anti-blackness, nocent settler-colonialism, structural misogyny, and insatiable capitalist extraction. The message and messengers are deeply political, philosophical, and pedagogical. At once an act of defiance and radical love, Until Our Lungs Give Out asks us to peer into a futurity its authors likely will not inhabit.
Refusing to adjust to injustice, George Yancy’s interlocutors speak with passion and urgency attesting to Yancy’s skill as an interviewer. Listen to what they have to say, for the insights they express speak to some of the gravest issues of our times.
2/2/23, Choice: This book was included in a roundup of forthcoming titles in African American studies.
7/31/23, Library Journal: The Best Books of August feature included this book in its listing of starred reviews awarded.
9/6/23, Pittsburgh City Paper: The Indie Bookseller Spotlight column features this book in a new release roundup.
9/7/23, New York Amsterdam News: This is featured in a “Black books about justice, healing” roundup.Link: https://amsterdamnews.com/news/2023/09/07/black-books-about-justice-healing
9/12/23, Essence: This title is featured in the roundup of new books out this fall.
9/13/23, The Tavis Smiley Podcast: George Yancy joins Tavis Smiley for a conversation about the book.
9/17/23, Truthout: George Yancy and prominent UPenn scholar Dorothy Roberts discuss the racist dimensions of the child-welfare system.
12/4/2023, Library Journal: Until Our Lungs Give Out was selected as one of Library Journal's Best Books of 2023.