“My situation was unique . . . being an African-American woman working undercover is exceptionally stressful . . . When I wasn’t on assignment . . . I would stay in bed, isolated and along, for days. ” – From Clean Dirt: A Memoir of Johnnie Mae Gibson, FBI Special Agent
Aya de Leon’s A Spy in the Struggle is not the typical spy novel but I’m here for it. Who says James Bond is the only spy that matters? We’ve heard his story already so let’s hear about the Johnnie Mae Gibsons and Yolanda Vances of the world.
Yolanda Vance had her heart set on working as a lawyer in Manhattan. As an African-American woman, Yolanda went against whatever stereotypes were in her way to become a lawyer. She seemed to run into the argument of whether she was too black or not black enough, depending on who was doing the questioning.
She was still succeeding in her plan for a legal career until the law firm was investigated by the FBI. Then Yolanda turned over evidence that would end that law firm and also her career in corporate law. So she had to say goodbye to all of her fancy Manhattan dreams. She was a whistleblower and wasn’t exactly sorry about doing the right thing.
Yolanda isn’t a quitter but she was blackballed by most law firms so she has to find a new path to success. To make ends meet, she became part of the legal team at the FBI. Yolanda’s first post is in New Jersey. It’s not fancy but it is a stepping stone.
After a short time at the New Jersey post, Yolanda is given an undercover assignment in the San Francisco area. She went to college at Cartwright College, which is in the San Francisco Bay area in this book.
Yolanda is given the assignment because she is African-American with ties to the area. They don’t want her to stick out like former agents have in the past. She is given the task of infiltrating a black extremist organization, Red, Black and GREEN!, who is supposedly harassing Randell Corporation, an industrial contractor with the U.S. Government. Yolanda quickly catches on that RBG is just trying to defend the people in the community.
A local woman, Anitra Jenkins, has been killed. The cops say it’s a heroin overdose but Anitra’s grandmother is telling anyone who will listen that her granddaughter was murdered. Grandmother Jenkins believes that Anitra saw something while working at Randell Corporation and she was killed for it.
Yolanda wants to do the right thing for the people in the community and the RBG group. She believes that the group has been helping the youth and also the homeless community. Her boss wants to protect the corporation and accuse RBG of doing terrible things. How can Yolanda do the right thing and stay alive? Will she be able to keep her relationships with the RBG group and her new boyfriend if they find out that she’s been spying on them? She is really walking a dangerously thin tightrope.
If you are a grassroots activist that truly wants to make a positive difference or if you just want good to overcome evil, then you will probably enjoy A Spy in the Struggle.
Here is a short list of people who will not enjoy this book:
- Corporate big whigs who have to win at all costs.
- People who choose money above everything.
- Proud Boys. Also, whoever enables racists and their groups.
- I received this ebook from NetGalley. All opinions are my own. Obviously.
- Amazon affiliate links included in this post.