This Is Not for You

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What to expect

A long-time activist in the Black community of Portland, Oregon, reflects on his accomplishments and the work still to be done.

This Is Not for You tells the story of activist and photographer Richard Brown, a Black Portlander who has spent decades working to bridge the divide between police and the Black community. His memoir brings listeners with him into the streets with fellow activists, into squad cars with the rank-and-file, and to regular meetings with mayors and police chiefs. There are very few people doing the kind of work Richard Brown has done. And that, as he sees it, is a big problem.

The book finds Brown approaching his eightieth birthday and reflecting on his life. As he recalls his childhood in 1940s Harlem, his radicalization in the newly desegregated Air Force, and his decades of activism in one of America’s whitest cities, he questions how much longer he can do this work and he wonders who, if anyone, will take his place.

This is a book about how and why to become an engaged, activist citizen and how activists can stay grounded, no matter how deeply they immerse themselves in the work. It also offers an intimate, firsthand look at policing: what policing is and could be, how civilians can have a say, and how police can and should be responsive to and inclusive of civilian voices. This Is Not for You speaks about being Black in America: about Black pride; Black history, art, and culture; and the experience of resisting white supremacy. It also stands as a much-needed counternarrative to Portlandia, telling a different story about the city and who has shaped it.

Critics Review

  • “Brown dismantles systemic racism in a story that drives to the heart because he was there—and tried to fix it. Put this book on your must-read list.”

    Rene Denfeld, death row investigator and author of The Child Finder
  • “From looking out the window to the street below as a child in Harlem, to living his truth out loud and authentically as a Black man and warrior activist, he has made a difference in how we talk about the administration of justice.”

    Avel Louise Gordly, former Oregon legislator, author of Remembering the Power of Words
  • “Narrator Emmett Wheatfall delivers a conversational performance in this autobiography…Wheatfall casually modulates between the righteous indignation of resisting white supremacy and a friendly nonchalance while detailing hard-won victories and feelings of Black pride. Wheatfall’s mature tone and consistent pacing perfectly capture Brown’s candid writing style.”


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