A fascinating, thoughtful, and provocative look at what in the Constitution keeps the United States from being “a more...

FAULT LINES IN THE CONSTITUTION

THE FRAMERS, THEIR FIGHTS, AND THE FLAWS THAT AFFECT US TODAY

The United States Constitution has been amended 27 times since its 1788 ratification, but the Levinsons make the reasonable and compelling case that further revision will make it even more efficient and just.

Cynthia Levinson, the author of We’ve Got a Job (2012), teams up with her husband, Sanford Levinson, a constitutional law scholar and professor, to explain how many of the political issues we struggle with today are rooted in flaws in the U.S. Constitution. Among the issues explored, in lively, accessible prose, are bicameralism, the Electoral College, emergency powers, gerrymandering, the presidential veto, and voter-identification requirements. In the chapters examining these issues, real-life examples illustrate each constitutional flaw (the 2000 election illustrates the problems in the Electoral College, for instance). Putting it in historical and contemporary context, the authors explain the problem, make comparisons to constitutions of other nations, and suggest viable solutions. The Levinsons grade the Constitution’s success in meeting its primary goals as outlined in the Preamble, giving it a C-plus overall. The text concludes with the authors debating the pros and cons of a second Constitutional Convention.

A fascinating, thoughtful, and provocative look at what in the Constitution keeps the United States from being “a more perfect union.” (timeline, bibliography, endnotes) (Nonfiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-56145-945-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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Essential.

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THIS BOOK IS ANTI-RACIST

20 LESSONS ON HOW TO WAKE UP, TAKE ACTION, AND DO THE WORK

A guidebook for taking action against racism.

The clear title and bold, colorful illustrations will immediately draw attention to this book, designed to guide each reader on a personal journey to work to dismantle racism. In the author’s note, Jewell begins with explanations about word choice, including the use of the terms “folx,” because it is gender neutral, and “global majority,” noting that marginalized communities of color are actually the majority in the world. She also chooses to capitalize Black, Brown, and Indigenous as a way of centering these communities’ voices; "white" is not capitalized. Organized in four sections—identity, history, taking action, and working in solidarity—each chapter builds on the lessons of the previous section. Underlined words are defined in the glossary, but Jewell unpacks concepts around race in an accessible way, bringing attention to common misunderstandings. Activities are included at the end of each chapter; they are effective, prompting both self-reflection and action steps from readers. The activities are designed to not be written inside the actual book; instead Jewell invites readers to find a special notebook and favorite pen and use that throughout. Combining the disruption of common fallacies, spotlights on change makers, the author’s personal reflections, and a call to action, this powerful book has something for all young people no matter what stage they are at in terms of awareness or activism.

Essential. (author’s note, further reading, glossary, select bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4521-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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Ultimately adds little to conversations about race.

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK BOY

A popular YouTube series on race, “Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man,” turns how-to manual and history lesson for young readers.

Acho is a former NFL player and second-generation Nigerian American who cites his upbringing in predominantly White spaces as well as his tenure on largely Black football teams as qualifications for facilitating the titular conversations about anti-Black racism. The broad range of subjects covered here includes implicit bias, cultural appropriation, and systemic racism. Each chapter features brief overviews of American history, personal anecdotes of Acho’s struggles with his own anti-Black biases, and sections titled “Let’s Get Uncomfortable.” The book’s centering of Whiteness and White readers seems to show up, to the detriment of its subject matter, both in Acho’s accounts of his upbringing and his thought processes regarding race. The overall tone unfortunately conveys a sense of expecting little from a younger generation who may have a greater awareness than he did at the same age and who, therefore, may already be uncomfortable with racial injustice itself. The attempt at an avuncular tone disappointingly reads as condescending, revealing that, despite his online success with adults, the author is ill-equipped to be writing for middle-grade readers. Chapters dedicated to explaining to White readers why they shouldn’t use the N-word and how valuable White allyship is may make readers of color (and many White readers) bristle with indignation and discomfort despite Acho’s positive intentions.

Ultimately adds little to conversations about race. (glossary, FAQ, recommended reading, references) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-80106-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2021

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