The Four Pivots: Reimagining Justice, Reimagining Ourselves (Paperback)
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“Reading this courageous book feels like the beginning of a social and personal awakening...I can’t stop thinking about it.”—Brené Brown, PhD, author of Atlas of the Heart
For readers of Emergent Strategy and Dare to Lead, an activist's roadmap to long-term social justice impact through four simple shifts.
We need a fundamental shift in our values--a pivot in how we think, act, work, and connect. Despite what we’ve been told, the most critical mainspring of social change isn’t coalition building or problem analysis. It’s healing: deep, whole, and systemic, inside and out.
Here, Shawn Ginwright, PhD, breaks down the common myths of social movements--a set of deeply ingrained beliefs that actually hold us back from healing and achieving sustainable systemic change. He shows us why these frames don’t work, proposing instead four revolutionary pivots for better activism and collective leadership:
Awareness: from lens to mirror
Connection: from transactional to transformative relationships
Vision: from problem-fixing to possibility-creating
Presence: from hustle to flow
Supplemented with reflections, prompts, cutting-edge research, and the author’s own insights and lived experience as an African American social scientist, professor, and movement builder, The Four Pivots helps us uncover our obstruction points. It shows us how to discover new lenses and boldly assert our need for connection, transformation, trust, wholeness, and healing. It gives us permission to create a better future--to acknowledge that a broken system has been predefining our dreams and limiting what we allow ourselves to imagine, but that it doesn’t have to be that way at all. Are you ready to pivot?
About the Author
SHAWN GINWRIGHT is one of the nation's leading innovators, provocateurs, and thought leaders for youth. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and currently serves as Professor of Education and Africana Studies at San Francisco State University. He has received numerous prestigious awards, including a Fulbright Scholarship from the U.S. State Department and honors from the National CARES Mentoring Movement. Dr. Ginwright currently serves as the chairman of the board of directors for the California Endowment. He also serves on the advisory board for the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning at the Jonathan Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University. Dr. Ginwright is the previous author of Hope and Healing in Urban Education: How Activists and Teachers are Reclaiming Matters of the Heart (Routledge, 2016); Black Youth Rising, Activism and Radical Healing in Urban America (Teachers College Press, 2010); Black in School - Afrocentric Reform, Black Youth and the Promise of Hip-Hop Culture (Teachers College Press, 2004); and co-editor of Beyond Resistance! Youth Resistance and Community Change: New Democratic Possibilities for Practice and Policy for America's Youth (Routledge, 2006).
“Reading this courageous book feels like the beginning of a social and personal awakening. By weaving together social science, storytelling, and his vast experience, Shawn explains why justice and healing are inextricably connected and how we can shift our thinking to create wholeness in our world and in ourselves. I can’t stop thinking about it.”
—Brené Brown, PhD, author of Dare to Lead
“Shawn Ginwright’s book illuminates a needed path for our racially divided nation to move from a place of sobering pessimism toward what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lewis referred to as The Beloved Community. Ginwright thoughtfully unpacks this pathway as a staged journey, where each of us as individuals—and within the institutions we occupy—can translate one’s lived experience into the sharing of story, human connectedness, and concerted action in service of full inclusion.”
—Robert K. Ross, MD, president and CEO of The California Endowment
“Shawn Ginwright calls upon us to take four pivots that can enable us to engage in deep reflection about our actions and experiences so that we can lead happier, healthier, and more meaningful lives.... an invaluable resource for those who seek to grow, evolve, and make a difference in the world.”
—Pedro A. Noguera, PhD, Emery Stoops and Joyce King Stoops Dean of the USC Rossier School of Education
“The Four Pivots is a guide for those of us who believe loving toward racial justice is a worthy endeavor. It is a salve for those of us who know we cannot fight against the powerful forces maintaining racialized capitalism without seeding the ground with the dreams, joys, and promises of what we will become when we all belong. And it is a clarion call for movement leaders who know we need new ways of doing our work that replace exhaustion for laughter, uncertainty for curiosity, and rage for love.”
—Carmen Rojas, PhD, president and CEO of the Marguerite Casey Foundation
“This is a resource that will keep on giving. Shawn provides us with insight about our current selves and the current state of our struggle, then pivots us to see another world is possible! This is a hopeful guide to moving from internalized ways of being that are not serving us into transforming ourselves into collective coordination to envision and build our just new world.”
—Denise Perry, director of BOLD (Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity)
“With wisdom, compassion and ‘you feel me’ humor, Shawn Ginwright invites us to care for and heal ourselves as we seek to care for and heal our world. A lifetime of stories and lessons learned—Ginwright’s and others’—are distilled throughout the book and illuminate how so much of what we’ve been taught about social change work is wrong but also how we can make deeper shifts in our values on the path to real justice. Part guidebook and part manifesto, The Four Pivots offers a new architecture for future movement building. This is essential and vital reading for those committed to creating the world they imagine.”
—Cheryl L. Dorsey, president of Echoing Green Fellows
“With this brilliant book, Ginwright changes the terms of the conversation about social justice, and puts healing squarely at center in considering the kind of society we want to have and what it takes to get there. He deftly illustrates the deeply intertwined relationship between our social and political work and our inner work—offering a roadmap to a more just society that involves care—and calls us each to lean into the most profound parts of our humanity. This book transforms how we think about our work and our world.”
—Na'ilah Suad Nasir, president of the Spencer Foundation