THE GRIFT

THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF BLACK REPUBLICANS FROM THE PARTY OF LINCOLN TO THE CULT OF TRUMP

A full-bore assault on Black politicos who buy the GOP line and are thus tolerated, “but only if they know their place.”

A take-no-prisoners attack on the small but vocal community of Black Trump supporters and their ideological forebears.

“All my skin folk ain’t my kinfolk,” writes Cane, borrowing a line from Zora Neale Hurston. Where emancipation was wrought by Republicans, real advances afterward were effected by people such as Frederick Douglass, “who disrupted the GOP to achieve important victories for Black citizens.” Ever since the Reagan years, the GOP has increasingly become a fortress of white supremacy, and those Black Americans who have supported it, from Mia Love to Tim Scott, are, in Cane’s term, “grifters.” A classic tactic among them is to claim that racism does not exist, then to accuse their political opponents of being racist. A case in point was the “shape-shifter” Republican representative Love, who “would succeed if she moved in a way that supported her white Republican voters’ racist assumptions—but once the racism turned on her and she spoke out, Love would lose her base.” True enough, and Love is now out of office, outflanked on the right. Another classic case is South Carolina senator and now presidential candidate Scott, who earned a mere 8% of the Black vote in his home state in 2016—which, Cane adds, is beside the point, given that “Scott is the mouthpiece to make white conservatives feel good about their anti-Black policies.” Cane singles out a handful of exceptions, such as former Texas representative Will Hurd, a former CIA agent and “throwback Republican” who represented a heavily Hispanic district. By the author’s account, however, most of the players in his book are a rogues’ gallery of crooks, among them Clarence Thomas, Ben Carson, and Omarosa Manigault Newman.

A full-bore assault on Black politicos who buy the GOP line and are thus tolerated, “but only if they know their place.”

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781728290225

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

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ELON MUSK

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

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A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.

To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781982181284

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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