Institutional racism is a reality many African Americans grapple with daily in the United States. Because the structural barriers to educational, legal and economic resources are seemingly insurmountable in predominantly black communities, educator Doreszell Cohen was inspired to start Link-Up 2 Lift-Up, a service organization that provides professional development and grassroots leadership training.
Her book of the same name details the underlying premise of Cohen’s “wokeshop” principles, which guide “citizen Africans in the United States in staying together and rising to our collective potential in systematic ways for our future generations.”
The author uses candid personal stories such as her young daughter’s near fatal stabbing in Jacksonville, Florida, to draw parallels to relevant studies by notable psychological and social behavior theorists such as Dr. Na’im Akbar, Alfred Adler, Albert Bandura and Abraham Maslow. “Often African Americans do not have the resources to adequately respond to the wide range and deeply stressful problems that confront us on a daily basis,” Cohen asserts, citing scholarly research to further exemplify how significant historical and social inequities have psychologically harmed generations of African Americans in this country.
Frequently, however, Cohen deviates from academically substantiated findings, admitting her perspective is inherently biased due to being based on “subjective experiences not from empirical data or comprehensive peer-reviewed analyses.”
Cohen’s first-person narrative is also disjointed throughout—strung together in a non-linear fashion—making it difficult for readers to follow the sequence of events she references.
The author hints in the intro that subsequent editions of the book may be forthcoming. While readers will find food for thought in this volume, a chronological timeline, along with additional statistics about racial injustice for African descendants living in the U.S., would smooth and enhance the reading experience for those seeking a deeper understanding of how systemic oppression manifests in contemporary society.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.