A dramatic and clearly delineated outline of “how the stage has been set for transformative political conflict.”

HOLLOWED OUT

WHY THE ECONOMY DOESN'T WORK WITHOUT A STRONG MIDDLE CLASS

The director of economic policy at the Center for American Progress argues that it is time to mount a political challenge to the economic theories—namely, supply-side, or trickle-down economics—that have provided cover for the unparalleled growth in inequality over the past three decades.

Madland states that the theory “has failed in a number of ways and is thus vulnerable to a challenge from the middle out.” Among the failures are the destructive consequences of growing income inequality, responsibility for the 2007-2009 “Great Recession,” and dramatic income-based undermining of opportunities and outcomes in American secondary and college education. As a senior member of the progressive Center for American Progress, Madland takes on the right wing's purblind opposition to raising taxes for expenditures on public goods such as education, which increase cultural and economic potentials in all areas by improving what the author calls “human capital.” College graduation rates, he writes, “have barely budged in over a generation,” and upward mobility is in decline. Furthermore, students from wealthy backgrounds continue to have significant access advantages over their poorer counterparts. “The average income for parents of Harvard students is now $450,000,” writes Madland. As inequality grows, the author shows how power shifts to the wealthy, politics becomes more polarized, and civic engagement suffers. The mad pursuit of profit and advantage—e.g., Wall Street banks insisting on deregulation, which contributed to the crash—and demanding no-strings-attached bailouts eliminate the trust and reciprocity that Madland promotes as a necessary accompaniment to a strong middle class. He believes American democracy “has proven resilient” but is not immune “to wealthy elites gaining disproportionate influence.” As the author notes, such elites, devoted to the theory of supply-side economics, don't readily change their ways.

A dramatic and clearly delineated outline of “how the stage has been set for transformative political conflict.”

Pub Date: June 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-520-28164-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE

Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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