Baptized in Tear Gas: From White Moderate to Abolitionist by Elle Dowd

Have you ever found yourself thinking “Why does Dani post so much about racism?” or “Why is Dani always on a political soapbox?”

Allow me to introduce you to my friend, Elle Dowd. My cousin introduced me to Elle over a decade ago because he thought we had a lot in common. He was right. Hair, nails, food, drinks. We had plenty in common and plenty not in common, too. Elle is a pastor in the ELCA, a military spouse, and an adoptive parent to Black children.

[TW for racism, state violence, police brutality, violence against Black people.]

On August 9, 2014, Mike Brown, a Black teenager, was shot and killed by police in St. Louis, Missouri. His body was left in the sun for four hours while his mother cried nearby.

Over the next two years, I watched as the Ferguson Uprising unfolded through Elle’s Facebook posts.

I watched as she marched in the streets. As she was tear-gassed and arrested multiple times. As she argued online with other white, moderate midwesterners trying to help them understand what was happening in Missouri. What she was seeing with her own eyes. How it conflicted with what was being portrayed in the media.

And last summer I had deja vu watching so many of my friends back home in Minnesota post things almost identical to Elle’s experience during the George Floyd protests. I watched as they were tear-gassed. Arrested. Gaslit. As they tried to get the truth out about what was actually happening versus what social media was saying was happening. 

Elle has now put her experience into a book, Baptized in Tear Gas: From White Moderate to Abolitionist. It’s incredible and so moving. I experienced every emotion on every page. I felt shame, anger, sadness, and hope over and over and over again. Just as I have the past 7 years as Elle’s experiences have helped me unpack my own racism, privilege, and role in white supremacy.

So if you want to know why I post so much about politics or racism, it’s at least in part because I was able to see myself in Elle’s story and she showed me what the role of a white person is in this movement. It didn’t happen for me overnight, but rather over the course of several years as I watched her journey. She was able to move me from denial and fragility to action.

Her book is now available for pre-order. I hope it will find its way onto your reading list, and that her story will have as much of an impact on you as it did on me. ❤

There were so many great passages in this book and places I highlighted and bookmarked, but I somehow narrowed it down to one to share here:

“In this vision for the future, everyone has a place and everyone is fed. Taste buds are dancing, cheeks are flushed, bellies are full. And that future is only possible if we pool our resources and redistribute them so that everyone has what they need. It is only possible if white Christians return stolen money, stolen labor, and stolen land. The systems and sins that rob our siblings may not have been constructed by us, but we inherited them, and we continue to benefit from them. They are our responsibility. It is capitalism and corporate greed that feeds racism and anti-Blackness in this country. Upending the entire system through a radical restructuring of wealth and resources is the only way that we can build a world where Black lives matter. That is when we will be in right relationship with one another. That’s when we get invited to the party, the feast, when this vision for the future becomes more than just a glimpse; it becomes reality.”

All money made from the sale of her book will go directly to Black activists, political prisoners, liberation organizations, community bail funds, and families who have lost loved ones to state violence.

Click here to Pre-Order from Amazon

Click here to Pre-Order from Barnes & Noble

Click here to Pre-Order from Broadleaf Books

I also recommend connecting with Elle through her public Facebook Page, Elle Dowd Ministry. She’s available for speaking engagements and workshops, and also has a newsletter.

Favorite Books: Baptized in Tear Gas by Elle Dowd

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