Though it may be too late to turn back the clock on cars (Malchik owns one), she makes a convincing plea for better balance.

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A WALKING LIFE

RECLAIMING OUR HEALTH AND OUR FREEDOM ONE STEP AT A TIME

Walking is good for you—and for the rest of us, in different ways than you might expect.

A travel writer who now lives in her native Montana after decades of more urban life, Malchik hasn’t simply written a self-help book on the physical and psychological benefits of walking, though there is plenty of that here. The author also delivers a manifesto that involves urban planning, technology, political protest, the environment, and the future of the planet. Humans were not only designed to walk, she writes; they are all but defined by their bipedal nature (Malchik does address those who have been immobilized and devotes a chapter to how society can serve them better). A century or so ago, with the emergence of the automobile, communities designed for pedestrian activity were still the norm, and it was the responsibility of the driver to steer clear of walkers. Now the walker is the anomaly, the exception. “Jaywalking is a recently invented term, a recently invented idea,” writes the author, devoting seven pages to the etymology of the term and its social history and reporting that more than 5,000 pedestrians are killed each year by drivers. “The idea of jaywalking is nonsensical,” she argues. “With or without roads, pedestrians have always had the first right to public space. Walking is how humans get places; denying us this access makes no sense.” She also explores the ramifications of refugees walking hundreds of miles for asylum, protestors mobilizing in the thousands for political action, and pilgrims undertaking long journeys by foot for spiritual reasons. (She finds walking meditation more beneficial than sitting meditation.) If we walked more often, we’d feel better, think more creatively, suffer less depression, have more connections as a community, breathe cleaner air, and have a more profound understanding of our place on the planet.

Though it may be too late to turn back the clock on cars (Malchik owns one), she makes a convincing plea for better balance.

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7382-2016-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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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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