An important social history for students and policymakers regarding the relationship between police brutality, urban...

FIGHT THE POWER

AFRICAN AMERICANS AND THE LONG HISTORY OF POLICE BRUTALITY IN NEW YORK CITY

A rigorous and unsettling discussion of decades of police brutality within New York City’s communities of color.

Taylor (Emeritus, History/Baruch Coll.; Reds at the Blackboard: Communism, Civil Rights, and the New York City Teachers Union, 2010, etc.) writes with an authoritative knowledge of his urban narrative and controlled prose that doesn’t mask anguished urgency about the disturbing topic. The author began to realize that despite renewed focus on police brutality after such flashpoints as the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, even social justice sympathizers lack awareness of the temporal depth of the problem. He argues that since the 1940s, police brutality has “led to civil unrest and mistrust between blacks and the NYPD…[and] a long history of African Americans’ efforts to expose the brutality.” The author documents this through a narrative survey, concluding in the present day. He reveals an epidemic of strong-arm policing in postwar New York, which the era’s black press scrupulously documented and the Communist Party visibly if inconsistently protested prior to the McCarthy era. In the 1950s, mutual hostility developed between the NYPD and the Nation of Islam; surprisingly, Taylor documents how NOI representatives, including Malcolm X, worked to defuse conflicts. As tensions mounted in the 1960s, following disturbances in Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant, politicians and activists advocated for greater civilian oversight of the department but were thwarted by a conservative backlash advancing a “false narrative” that such oversight was meant to coddle black criminals. Later, Mayor Rudy Giuliani famously embraced tough-on-crime, “broken windows” policing. Although crime declined dramatically on his watch, he displayed racial insensitivity as brutality complaints soared, culminating in the police torture of Abner Louima and several notorious fatalities. In recent years, cautiously progressive policies on accountability and “stop and frisk” tactics defused Giuliani-era tensions, but Taylor remains unconvinced, noting, “Mayor [Bill] de Blasio’s adamant defense of broken windows predicted ongoing harassment of black and brown people.”

An important social history for students and policymakers regarding the relationship between police brutality, urban stability, and civic accountability.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4798-6245-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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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 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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