LIFEBLOOD

HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD ONE MOSQUITO AT A TIME

The near-success story of one man’s fight to control malaria in Africa, related by Time Africa bureau chief Perry (Falling Off the Edge: Travels Through the Dark Heart of Globalization, 2008).

That man is Ray Chambers, a self-made millionaire for whom money was distinctly not everything, but who discovered that helping the poor, especially children dying of malaria in Africa, would be the most satisfying thing he could do. Thus was born the idea of distributing insecticide-treated bed nets in sub-Saharan Africa. Though it wasn’t a new idea, Chambers adopted the business model that had worked for him on Wall Street, leveraging funding from multiple sources and specifying targets and timelines. A major key was Chambers’ ability to sweet-talk transnational corporations into becoming funders, noting that it was in their own self-interest to support bed nets, thus reducing absenteeism and improving workers’ health and morale. Starting in 2009, Chambers’ target was 300 million nets, reaching 600 million people by the end of 2010. He came close, but the target grew; however, he succeeded in getting the goods, just not in time. The Chambers story must be told, Perry writes, especially in light of the gloom-and-doom saying of so many NGOs and government agencies who were often critical—and whom the author takes to task for inertia, if not downright lying in their fundraising efforts). Perry bookends the text with before and after visits to Apac, Uganda, a hopeless malarial hell before the Chambers campaign. The author cites impressive data on disease reduction, clinic-building, etc., but there are still questions: How do you sustain disease control, teach proper net use and replace nets when they wear out. What happens when insecticide resistance develops? How do you coordinate control programs with vaccine and drug development in a continent beset by corruption, scandal, poverty, tribal war and massive refugee movements? In that light, Chambers’ story is the most upbeat to date—almost emblematic of the old adage, “where there’s a will there’s a way.”

 

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-61039-086-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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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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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE

Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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