Paper pub. date
February 2021
ISBN 9780870713026 (paperback)
ISBN 9780870713057 (ebook)
6 x 9, 264 pages. 32 b&w photographs.
Available February 2021

This Is Not For You

An Activist's Journey of Resistance and Resilience

Richard Brown and Brian Benson

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 readers 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'll 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 on every page 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.

Over fifty percent of the royalties earned on This Is Not For You will be donated to organizations working on behalf of Black Portlanders.

About the author

Richard Brown  is a community activist and photographer. He works tirelessly to empower Black people and to bridge the gap between the police and the Black community. This is his first book.

Read more about this author

Brian Benson is the author of Going Somewhere. Originally from Wisconsin, Brian now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he teaches at the Attic Institute.

Read more about this author

Watch a Zoom Event with Richard Brown, Brian Benson, and Avel Louise Gordly


“Richard Brown tells a story that punctures the myths of Portland, Oregon as a progressive utopia. From education to police policy, 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 bestselling author of The Child Finder

“At once a coming-of-age story, a history of Black-led movements in Portland, and a guidebook for would-be activists, This Is Not For You is a well-written account of an exceptionally well-lived life. I will read this book again and again.” —Ron Herndon, Director of Albina Head Start

“Richard Brown has opened his heart to allow us to see and feel his full life journey. 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 in Oregon and America.” —Avel Louise Gordly, former Oregon legislator, author of Remembering the Power of Words

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