• Bird Uncaged

  • An Abolitionist's Freedom Song
  • By: Marlon Peterson
  • Narrated by: Marlon Peterson
  • Length: 6 hrs and 3 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (36 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From a leading prison abolitionist, a moving memoir about coming of age in Brooklyn and surviving incarceration - and a call to break free from all the cages that confine us.

Marlon Peterson grew up in 1980s Crown Heights, raised by Trinidadian immigrants. Amid the routine violence that shaped his neighborhood, Marlon became a high-achieving and devout child, the specter of the American dream opening up before him. But in the aftermath of immense trauma, he participated in a robbery that resulted in two murders. At 19, Peterson was charged and later convicted. He served 10 long years in prison. While incarcerated, Peterson immersed himself in anti-violence activism, education, and prison abolition work.

In Bird Uncaged, Peterson challenges the typical “redemption” narrative and our assumptions about justice. With vulnerability and insight, he uncovers the many cages - from the daily violence and trauma of poverty, to policing, to enforced masculinity, and the brutality of incarceration - created and maintained by American society.

Bird Uncaged is a 21st-century abolitionist memoir, and a powerful debut that demands a shift from punishment to healing, an end to prisons, and a new vision of justice.

©2021 Marlon Peterson (P)2021 Bold Type Books

Critic Reviews

"Peterson has done what is rarely done in American literature: created a classic memoir that shows contemporary readers how to rewrite our lives and future readers how to reread the possibilities of abolition. This is a stunning memoir that pulls off everything it attempts and somehow it made me want to ask more of myself as a writer, human, and abolitionist.” (Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy)

"Real heroes aren't branded. Many are celebrated far too late. But on rare and triumphant occasions, the people who commit to doing the monumental world-changing work of transformative justice end up being celebrated while they are among us, in community. Marlon Peterson is one of those people. His words are necessary balm. And we need them now more than ever. What a gift he has given us in his debut book. Lives will be forever changed because of his memoir and work." (Darnell Moore, author of No Ashes in the Fire)

Bird Uncaged is a story of trauma and survival; a lesson in what it means to confront all of the ugliness of the past and dare journey to forgiveness and something more. Peterson is resolute in these lines, because he has seen enough to know that the healing and the hope is in the journey. The journey found in these pages isn’t just a coming of age story, but rather is a crucially important confronting the ways a man has hurt and been hurt, and come to believe honesty might be a pathway away from shame and more suffering.” (Reginald Dwayne Betts, author of Felon)

What listeners say about Bird Uncaged

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  • Overall
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This book is unputdownable!!

"In life you get to choose your choices, but you don't get to choose your consequences."

This quote is thought provoking and makes for a great conversation.

This book is unputdownable!! An all too familiar story of a young Black man trying to Become.
The author narrated his book on Audible and need I tell you, I was besides myself listening to Marlon speak to me, personally telling me his story and me responding with my thoughts. Marlon told a profound and transparent story. He shared his deepest feelings, his journey into becoming a man and struggles throughout his formidable years with masculinity and gaining respect. He showed just how volatile it is for a young Black boy going to school and just trying to find agency within himself and his community. I walked the streets of Brooklyn and the school hallways with him. I laughed, cried and felt his pain. Marlon gave a first hand account of the school to prison pipeline system. Included in this must read text are historical and statistical data regarding the prison system. One of the many things I found really interesting was his explanation of how digitized incarceration has always been. He spat the truth in Un-American and Free. "Not every country was created by war and the written oppression of most of its citizens; not every country in the world gained its wealth through the brazen brutality of slavery, war, colonialism, and dogged capitalism." I admired Marlon's tenacious and positive attitude toward success during his incarceration. Determined to be successful, Marlon would do just what he knew to do, 'Move On' and accomplish many great achievements.
Marlon left me wondering about my own dash. What could someone experience in their own life that would allow them to purposely hurt another?

1 person found this helpful

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Incredible book

Marlon offers strong insight into his experiences with toxic masculinity, racism in America, trauma and healing. Read by author, which adds a lot of meaning and emotion to his told experiences.

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Superb story and reading

The truths pray need in this story was enlightening, encouraging and an easy read. Any adult with a heart for the future of our inner city children of color should digest the material in this book.
Peace & thank you

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A must read!

It is life changing. I loved hearing the author read his memoir. We need to abolish prisons!

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Moving

Marlon’s words brought an aching to my heart. We must see each other. We must do better.