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 events of the past decade have 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, 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.
In a series of incisive essays, 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 institutional oppression are ever-present.
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.
Mychal Denzel Smith is the author of the New York Times bestseller Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching (2016) and Stakes Is High (2020). His work has appeared, online and print, in the New York Times,Washington Post, Harper's, Artforum, Oxford American, New Republic, GQ, Complex, Esquire, Playboy, Bleacher Report, the Nation, the Atlantic, Pitchfork, Bookforum, and a number of other publications. He has appeared on the Daily Show, PBS Newshour, Democracy NOW!, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, MSNBC, CNN, NPR, and more national and local radio/television programs.
He is featured in and was a consulting producer for "Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story," the Paramount Network docuseries executive produced by Jay-Z. In 2014 and 2016, TheRoot.com named him one of the 100 Most Influential African Americans in their annual The Root 100 list. He was also a 2017 NAACP Image Award Nominee. He is a fellow at Type Media Center. You can follow him on Twitter at @mychalsmith.