Valuable as a thought experiment alone but also an “actual plan” for effecting lasting political change.

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THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

A BLACK POWER MANIFESTO

The distinguished New York Times columnist offers a daring but utterly sensible plan to advance Black civil rights.

The devil that Black Americans know all too well is racism, and, as Blow notes from the outset, it is not confined to the South: “Black people fled the horrors of the racist South for so-called liberal cities of the North and West, trading the devil they knew for the devil they didn’t, only to come to the painful realization that the devil is the devil.” Though George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police was roundly protested—and with Whites often outnumbering Blacks at demonstrations around the country—soon after, Jacob Blake suffered the same fate, in Milwaukee, by bullets rather than asphyxiation, but with “no similar outpouring of outrage.” What Blow calls “white liberal grievance” is useless in the face of a racist system that will not change. Or will it? Given that Georgia is at the crux of the 2020 presidential election and that Stacey Abrams’ get-out-the-vote campaign brought in hundreds of thousands of voters to turn the state blue, Blow considers the state “proof of concept” that Black voters can indeed sway elections. He adds that the entire South could follow suit if only Blacks would reverse the path of the Great Migration to the North during Jim Crow and remake the electoral map by forming a solid majority. As he writes, if just half of Black residents elsewhere moved South, it would establish that majority from Louisiana all the way across the Southern heartland to South Carolina, “a contiguous band of Black power that would upend America’s political calculus and exponentially increase Black political influence.” It would also end White supremacy in that intransigent region. “The South now beckons as the North once did,” he urges in his resounding conclusion. “The promise of real power is made manifest. Seize it. Migrate. Move.”

Valuable as a thought experiment alone but also an “actual plan” for effecting lasting political change.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291466-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN

A former NFL player casts his gimlet eye on American race relations.

In his first book, Acho, an analyst for Fox Sports who grew up in Dallas as the son of Nigerian immigrants, addresses White readers who have sent him questions about Black history and culture. “My childhood,” he writes, “was one big study abroad in white culture—followed by studying abroad in black culture during college and then during my years in the NFL, which I spent on teams with 80-90 percent black players, each of whom had his own experience of being a person of color in America. Now, I’m fluent in both cultures: black and white.” While the author avoids condescending to readers who already acknowledge their White privilege or understand why it’s unacceptable to use the N-word, he’s also attuned to the sensitive nature of the topic. As such, he has created “a place where questions you may have been afraid to ask get answered.” Acho has a deft touch and a historian’s knack for marshaling facts. He packs a lot into his concise narrative, from an incisive historical breakdown of American racial unrest and violence to the ways of cultural appropriation: Your friend respecting and appreciating Black arts and culture? OK. Kim Kardashian showing off her braids and attributing her sense of style to Bo Derek? Not so much. Within larger chapters, the text, which originated with the author’s online video series with the same title, is neatly organized under helpful headings: “Let’s rewind,” “Let’s get uncomfortable,” “Talk it, walk it.” Acho can be funny, but that’s not his goal—nor is he pedaling gotcha zingers or pleas for headlines. The author delivers exactly what he promises in the title, tackling difficult topics with the depth of an engaged cultural thinker and the style of an experienced wordsmith. Throughout, Acho is a friendly guide, seeking to sow understanding even if it means risking just a little discord.

This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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