The Black Lives Matter movement experienced a groundswell of support in the summer of 2020. The scale of mobilization was staggering, with marches and rallies held in every corner of the country. Since then, support for the movement has dropped, and some see this as an indication that white support for Black Lives Matter was only ever fickle and thin. In May 2020 Percival Everett published a novel that contests the reduction of activist sentiment to social outcomes. Telephone tells the story of a Black man, Zach Wells, who struggles to come to terms with his daughter's terminal illness. As she deteriorates, Zach looks to be of help to someone, anyone, in need. An opportunity to do that comes in the form of an anonymous note in Spanish that he receives asking for help. At this juncture, the novel splits off into three narratives, each giving a distinct account of how feelings of loss and grief spur Zach to act on conviction and mobilize support for a cause. The narratives appear in three versions of Telephone, which the publisher released simultaneously. In a remarkable coincidence, this trivalent fiction limns summer 2020’s structure of feeling, where the strain of enduring COVID‐19 restrictions intersected with the outrage of witnessing racial injustice. Telephone's versions show how activism can result from an admixture of motives and aims. Against the claim that support for Black Lives Matter was insincere, Telephone imagines the grounds for political action as particular to experience yet multiple in its trajectories.

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