Baptized in Tear Gas

Baptized in Tear Gas

Dowd, Elle

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From White Moderate to Abolitionist

For years Elle Dowd considered herself an advocate for justice, but her well-meaning support always took a back burner to what Martin Luther King Jr. called the tension-free, ordered "negative peace" of white moderates. Then Michael Brown, a Black man, was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and the subsequent Uprising changed everything.

In Baptized in Tear Gas, minister and activist Elle Dowd tells the gripping story of her transformation into an Assata Shakur-reading, courthouse-occupying abolitionist with an arrest record, hungry for the revolution. Thanks to deep relationships with people in Ferguson and St. Louis, and to experiencing a fraction of the system for herself--including the fear of rubber bullets, the shock of sound cannons, and running from tear gas--Dowd fully committed to the work of anti-racism and abolition. Now she wants to help other white allies do the same.

Like in baptism, this transformation requires parts of us to die: our lack of power analysis, our commitment to white niceness, our tone policing, our respectability politics--all of those impulses we have been socialized by since birth must die so that something new can be resurrected in our lives and in the world. The uprising in Ferguson changed Dowd, and through it, God made her into something new.

Now it's our turn.

Elle Dowd is the only white writer I have ever encountered in this weird space of progressive Christianity talking to her cousins about their sin of racism who isn't making a dime from her book--100 percent of every dime she makes off this book goes back to the community she learned from. That's the best--but far from the only--reason to listen to her or buy this book. --Lenny Duncan, author of United States of Grace and Dear Church