In The Chosen Ones, sociologist and feminist scholar Nikki Jones shares the compelling story of a group of Black men living in San Francisco’s historically Black neighborhood, the Fillmore. Against all odds, these men work to atone for past crimes by reaching out to other Black men, young and old, with the hope of guiding them toward a better life. Yet despite their genuine efforts, they struggle to find a new place in their old neighborhood. With a poignant yet hopeful voice, Jones illustrates how neighborhood politics, everyday interactions with the police, and conservative Black gender ideologies shape the men’s ability to make good and forgive themselves—and how the double-edged sword of community shapes the work of redemption.
Nikki Jones is Associate Professor of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Between Good and Ghetto: African American Girls and Inner-City Violence.
“The Chosen Ones investigates Black male safety in a poor, inner-city community. Jones shows the complicated social dynamics with a deft touch. Individuals need help to escape their circumstances, but powerful interests are against them or exist to control them. The Chosen Ones is sobering and timely!”—Scott N. Brooks, Director of Research, Global Sport Institute
“This book is a crisp, empathetic, and compelling ethnography that vividly represents the everyday lives of young people who are too often victimized by urban gun violence. Nikki Jones renders their social world through their own stories—telling what she saw and what she heard from them. This urgent and powerful account is a must-read for anyone who really wants to understand the causes and effects of the senseless violence occurring in our cities today.”—Elijah Anderson, Yale University, author of Code of the Street and The Cosmopolitan Canopy
“Nikki Jones has produced an astounding book that captures the breadth and depth of human resilience. The Chosen Ones tells a story of men and boys who are resourceful, tenacious, and brave in the face of street violence and the aftermath of the War on Drugs. While the book paints a vivid picture of lost lives and families torn apart by violence, it also illustrates the redemptive power of human agency. A compelling account of the experiences of Black men and boys struggling to survive, it is ethnographic storytelling at its best.”—Waverly Duck, Director of Urban Studies, University of Pittsburgh
“With its riveting stories and unparalleled analysis, The Chosen Ones exposes the gendered and racialized politics of redemption at the heart of criminal justice (and injustice!) better than any book written to date. It is a true triumph, easily among the decade’s most important books on the American way of justice. I cannot recommend it highly enough.”—Shadd Maruna, Professor of Criminology, author of Making Good: How Ex-Convicts Reform and Rebuild Their Lives
“Nikki Jones tells the vital story of the brave persons and organizations who work tirelessly to heal traumatized individuals and communities who have been victims of interpersonal and structural violence in neighborhoods across America. It should be required reading for all policymakers concerned with eliminating urban violence and trauma.”— Howard Pinderhughes, University of California, San Francisco