“Here it is: The book we’ve been waiting for that we didn’t even know we were waiting for. This book is here to fan the flames of our righteous indignation and our demands for better sooner. This book will make your blood boil over just in time to bring it to the polls in November. Like a mother lion, it picks you up by the scruff of your neck — mewling and new to the world of antiracism — and demands that you walk on your own. Thank goodness this book exists.”
— Charlotte Colaluca, Mystery to Me, Madison, WI
Brave, clear-eyed, and passionate, Stakes Is High is the book we need to guide us past crisis mode and through an uncertain future. The 2016 election forced us to reckon with who we are and who we want to be. We have been invested in a set of beliefs about our American identity: our exceptionalism, the inevitable rightness of our path, and the promise that hard work and determination will carry us to freedom. But in Stakes Is High, Mychal Denzel Smith confronts the shortcomings of these stories-and with the American Dream itself-and calls on us to live up to the principles we profess but fail to realize. Smith exposes the stark contradictions at the heart of American life, holding all of us, individually and as a nation, to account. We've gotten used to looking away, but the fissures and casual violence-of incarceration, poverty, misogyny, and racism-are ever-present. But there is a future that is not as grim as our past. In this profound work, Smith helps us envision it, with care, honesty, and imagination.