An interesting manifesto that will incite debate, including whether it is overly simplistic and/or impractical.




The Peabody Award–winning co-host of public radio’s On the Media offers his take on how to make America great again despite Donald Trump and his enablers.

Garfield’s (Bedfellows, 2012, etc.) manifesto stands out from those already published partly because of the specific proposals but mostly because of the breezy, often glib tone. Some readers will appreciate the irreverence as they digest the proposed solutions while others will find the tone jarring in the context of the serious subject matter. Before reaching the solutions portion of the manifesto, the author takes a stab at how the mess occurred. His primary culprit is the “well-intentioned multiculturalism” espoused by progressive, liberal citizens. Garfield suggests that the emphasis on personal identity has damaged our sense of common cause, atomized society, and, most significantly, led to a vicious backlash among millions of citizens who voted Donald Trump into office and gave Republican Party faux patriots control of Congress. The antagonism between belief systems became so toxic, Garfield argues, that in some respects, the nation has become a fascist state. The author also places blame on mainstream media moguls and their newsroom functionaries. Without vigorous journalism that can be trusted to disseminate accurate, fair reports, the current national crisis shows few signs of abating. As Garfield rightly points out, the respectable, trustworthy journalists who remain are too few and scattered to serve as an effective watchdog on government and corporate waste, fraud, and abuse. So-called digital journalists, writes Garfield, often spread lies and find receptive audiences among consumers who don’t do their homework. The author also offers some proposed solutions, including vastly improved, significantly more responsible journalism. “We can hold our heads in despair,” writes Garfield, “or we can repair what has been put asunder. Wishful thinking, you say? Pollyanna, you say? Totally fucking delusional, you say? No. It can be done.”

An interesting manifesto that will incite debate, including whether it is overly simplistic and/or impractical.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64009-280-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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.


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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