A powerful anthology that might indeed fulfill the wish of the co-authors that readers craft potent strategies to resist...

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HOW WE FIGHT WHITE SUPREMACY

A FIELD GUIDE TO BLACK RESISTANCE

Two journalists present their conversations with people of color about approaches to resisting white supremacy, which “defines our current reality.”

Solomon (co-editor: Naked: Black Women Bare All About Their Skin, Hair, Hips, Lips, and Other Parts, 2005) and Rankin (editor: Bet on Black: African-American Women Celebrate Fatherhood in the Age of Barack Obama, 2013), colleagues at Colorlines, present “a curated, multidisciplinary collection that serves as a showcase for some of our most powerful thinkers and doers.” At the opening of each chapter, which covers grassroots organizing and the necessity of gallows humor in the face of discrimination, among many other topics, the authors give their views on why that topic relates to the resistance. At the end of each chapter, Solomon and Rankin offer deeply personal, uncompromising reflections. For example, at the end of “Laugh to Keep from Crying,” Solomon writes, “laughing is an underground railroad for those of us lucky to ride its tracks, the vehicle through which we have mushed you in your savage face for murdering us because you are a land-thieving lazy ass who believed that something called God told you to kidnap, dehumanize, and torture other people into doing your fucking farming, child care, and nation-building.” Though the book was composed with “Black folks in mind,” the lessons for any reader are apparent and highly useful. Some of the contributors will be familiar to readers who pay attention to contemporary literature and race-related issues—e.g., Ta-Nehisi Coates, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Imani Perry, and Kiese Laymon—and any reader who believes strongly in their own progressivism will still learn from various passages about how people of color deal with certain realities every day. As these pieces demonstrate, white supremacy does not always take obvious forms such as violence; Solomon, Rankin, and the other contributors show that it can take subtler forms.

A powerful anthology that might indeed fulfill the wish of the co-authors that readers craft potent strategies to resist white supremacy.

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-56858-849-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Nation Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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