In the meantime, King shows why this controversy matters well beyond the football field.

REDSKINS

INSULT AND BRAND

This academic analysis suggests that the team name of the NFL’s Washington, D.C., franchise is both reprehensible and indefensible.

King (Comparative Ethnic Studies/Washington State Univ.; Team Spirits: The Native American Mascots Controversy, 2001, etc.) asserts that “Redskins” is “very much a living slur” and “widely regarded as an epithet.” So why does the culture at large tolerate a team name that insults American Indians when it would never accept such an insult directed at African-Americans, Jews, or other races or ethnicities? One possibility, according to one scholar, is that “since actual Indians are a virtually invisible minority for most Americans, stereotypical images of Native Americans have long been widespread in American popular culture.” Though King focuses on one team—one that happens to be located in the nation’s capital and one of whose previous owners was an outspoken bigot—he extends the critique to any team that exploits such stereotypes and has such demeaning mascots. The author acknowledges and refutes the usual smoke screens: that the term wasn’t considered offensive when it originated, that it has long-standing tradition and sentimental value, that it actually glorifies the Indian warrior, that many Native American fans have no problem with it. Most rationalizations are perpetuated by ignorance as much as insensitivity: “They know how the symbols make them feel,” he writes of football fans who embrace the name and tradition. “They know how they want Native Americans to feel; they know how Native Americans should feel. Rarely, however, do they know how Native Americans do feel.” King details how the name began when the team was based in Boston, as were baseball’s Braves, at a time when there was often a relationship between the names of the city’s sports teams, how the branding and stereotyping became more elaborate after the move to Washington, and how the tide of media and public sentiment “may soon reach a tipping point” to mandate a change.

In the meantime, King shows why this controversy matters well beyond the football field.

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8032-7864-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

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

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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