by Adam Smyer ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 2020
A bitingly humorous compendium of the absurd subtle racism of the American workplace.
A slim, sharp, satirical guide to preventing racial microaggressions against Black people at work, written by a fictional Black colleague.
Daquan, “the Black coworker you are referring to when you claim to have Black friends,” has something to say. He can always spot the moment when a White person becomes aware they are interacting with a “full-on BLACK PERSON.” Their eyes “take on a mad gleam,” and both revulsion and attraction play on their faces. They simply cannot help themselves; they must speak about it, abandoning appropriate topics like work, weather, and sports for dicier conversation peppered with African American vernacular. Microaggressions ensue. Fed up, Daquan offers a list of slyly disrespectful comments he would rather “people of pallor” kept to themselves. Organized from A to Z and presented with no filter, entries include “articulate” (not a compliment); “dark” (stop using it as a synonym for bad or evil); “ghetto” (“sits next to ‘urban’ in the dog-whistle drawer”); “hair” (don’t touch it without consent); “quiet” (Black people have a right not to be); “voted for Obama” (“if the last time you respected a Black person was 2012, probably you should keep that to yourself”; “you’re different” (no, but White people often have limited understanding and experience with Blackness); and all manner of subtle discrimination and affronts in between. Smyer delivers the directives with heaping sarcasm, cutting humor, and some web lingo. Best avoided by would-be White allies who demand to be treated gingerly, this book lets loose the frustration of being Black in majority White spaces. Less a guide for White people than a palliative for the daily indignities suffered by real-life Daquans, the book is a balm for tongues bitten and comments swallowed that is guaranteed to leave some Black folks chuckling in recognition while White colleagues cringe in embarrassment.A bitingly humorous compendium of the absurd subtle racism of the American workplace.
Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020
Page Count: 136
Review Posted Online: July 13, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020
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by Matthew Desmond ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 21, 2023
A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.
A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.
“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.
Pub Date: March 21, 2023
Page Count: 288
Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023
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by Ta-Nehisi Coates ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 8, 2015
This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
New York Times Bestseller
Pulitzer Prize Finalist
National Book Award Winner
The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.
Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
Pub Date: July 8, 2015
Page Count: 176
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015
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