THE MYTH OF THE WELFARE QUEEN

A PULITZER-PRIZE WINNING JOURNALIST'S PORTRAIT OF WOMEN ON THE LINE

A glimpse into the actual lives of two members of that unfortunate subset of society that Americans love to stereotype and despise: the welfare mother. Zucchino, foreign editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, follows Odessa Williams on her ``trash-picking'' rounds and to the welfare office as she endeavors to support the grandchildren under her permanent care as well as additional family members who move in and out as crises dictate. Crises are not unusual in Odessa's world, so she gets plenty of opportunity to exercise her resourcefulness in responding to fires, problems at school, brushes with the law, drugs and drug pushers, uncertain employment for her grown son, and the challenges of physical survival posed by poverty. Meanwhile, Cheri Honkala relies on welfare and what she can earn at night as a topless dancer to support her son, while devoting her days to fighting homelessness. She helps create a tent city to protest welfare cuts, joins the occupation of an abandoned church and the takeover by protesters of empty houses owned by HUD. She tirelessly seeks publicity for her cause, battles with bureaucrats, and rallies and comforts fellow protesters. Far from lazy, these women are stretched to the limit. Zucchino does not obscure the ugliness- -including welfare recipients who embrace dependence—that surrounds them, but what stands out is the resilience of these women in the face of events that would be insurmountable tragedies for most middle- and upper-class Americans. It is unlikely this book will engender new and widespread respect for welfare mothers, for the ``welfare queen'' myth draws its strength from what people want to believe, not misperceptions of reality. But by setting aside presuppositions and moral judgments to simply describe what he finds, Zucchino offers a substantive image of life on welfare for those who want to see it. (Author tour)*justify no* A glimpse into the actual lives of two members of that unfortunate subset of society that Americans love to stereotype and despise: the welfare mother. Zucchino, foreign editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, follows Odessa Williams on her ``trash-picking'' rounds and to the welfare office as she endeavors to support the grandchildren under her permanent care as well as additional family members who move in and out as crises dictate. Crises are not unusual in Odessa's world, so she gets plenty of opportunity to exercise her resourcefulness in responding to fires, problems at school, brushes with the law, drugs and drug pushers, uncertain employment for her grown son, and the challenges of physical survival posed by poverty. Meanwhile, Cheri Honkala relies on welfare and what she can earn at night as a topless dancer to support her son, while devoting her days to fighting homelessness. She helps create a tent city to protest welfare cuts, joins the occupation of an abandoned church and the takeover by protesters of empty houses owned by HUD. She tirelessly seeks publicity for her cause, battles with bureaucrats, and rallies and comforts fellow protesters. Far from lazy, these women are stretched to the limit. Zucchino does not obscure the ugliness- -including welfare recipients who embrace dependence—that surrounds them, but what stands out is the resilience of these women in the face of events that would be insurmountable tragedies for most middle- and upper-class Americans. It is unlikely this book will engender new and widespread respect for welfare mothers, for the ``welfare queen'' myth draws its strength from what people want to believe, not misperceptions of reality. But by setting aside presuppositions and moral judgments to simply describe what he finds, Zucchino offers a substantive image of life on welfare for those who want to see it. (Author tour)*justify no* A glimpse into the actual lives of two members of that unfortunate subset of society that Americans love to stereotype and despise: the welfare mother. Zucchino, foreign editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, follows Odessa Williams on her ``trash-picking'' rounds and to the welfare office as she endeavors to support the grandchildren under her permanent care as well as additional family members who move in and out as crises dictate. Crises are not unusual in Odessa's world, so she gets plenty of opportunity to exercise her resourcefulness in responding to fires, problems at school, brushes with the law, drugs and drug pushers, uncertain employment for her grown son, and the challenges of physical survival posed by poverty. Meanwhile, Cheri Honkala relies on welfare and what she can earn at night as a topless dancer to support her son, while devoting her days to fighting homelessness. She helps create a tent city to protest welfare cuts, joins the occupation of an abandoned church and the takeover by protesters of empty houses owned by HUD. She tirelessly seeks publicity for her cause, battles with bureaucrats, and rallies and comforts fellow protesters. Far from lazy, these women are stretched to the limit. Zucchino does not obscure the ugliness- -including welfare recipients who embrace dependence—that surrounds them, but what stands out is the resilience of these women in the face of events that would be insurmountable tragedies for most middle- and upper-class Americans. It is unlikely this book will engender new and widespread respect for welfare mothers, for the ``welfare queen'' myth draws its strength from what people want to believe, not misperceptions of reality. But by setting aside presuppositions and moral judgments to simply describe what he finds, Zucchino offers a substantive image of life on welfare for those who want to see it. (Author tour)*justify no* A glimpse into the actual lives of two members of that unfortunate subset of society that Americans love to stereotype and despise: the welfare mother. Zucchino, foreign editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, follows Odessa Williams on her ``trash-picking'' rounds and to the welfare office as she endeavors to support the grandchildren under her permanent care as well as additional family members who move in and out as crises dictate. Crises are not unusual in Odessa's world, so she gets plenty of opportunity to exercise her resourcefulness in responding to fires, problems at school, brushes with the law, drugs and drug pushers, uncertain employment for her grown son, and the challenges of physical survival posed by poverty. Meanwhile, Cheri Honkala relies on welfare and what she can earn at night as a topless dancer to support her son, while devoting her days to fighting homelessness. She helps create a tent city to protest welfare cuts, joins the occupation of an abandoned church and the takeover by protesters of empty houses owned by HUD. She tirelessly seeks publicity for her cause, battles with bureaucrats, and rallies and comforts fellow protesters. Far from lazy, these women are stretched to the limit. Zucchino does not obscure the ugliness- -including welfare recipients who embrace dependence—that surrounds them, but what stands out is the resilience of these women in the face of events that would be insurmountable tragedies for most middle- and upper-class Americans. It is unlikely this book will engender new and widespread respect for welfare mothers, for the ``welfare queen'' myth draws its strength from what people want to believe, not misperceptions of reality. But by setting aside presuppositions and moral judgments to simply describe what he finds, Zucchino offers a substantive image of life on welfare for those who want to see it. (Author tour)*justify no* A glimpse into the actual lives of two members of that unfortunate subset of society that Americans love to stereotype and despise: the welfare mother. Zucchino, foreign editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, follows Odessa Williams on her ``trash-picking'' rounds and to the welfare office as she endeavors to support the grandchildren under her permanent care as well as additional family members who move in and out as crises dictate. Crises are not unusual in Odessa's world, so she gets plenty of opportunity to exercise her resourcefulness in responding to fires, problems at school, brushes with the law, drugs and drug pushers, uncertain employment for her grown son, and the challenges of physical survival posed by poverty. Meanwhile, Cheri Honkala relies on welfare and what she can earn at night as a topless dancer to support her son, while devoting her days to fighting homelessness. She helps create a tent city to protest welfare cuts, joins the occupation of an abandoned church and the takeover by protesters of empty houses owned by HUD. She tirelessly seeks publicity for her cause, battles with bureaucrats, and rallies and comforts fellow protesters. Far from lazy, these women are stretched to the limit. Zucchino does not obscure the ugliness- -including welfare recipients who embrace dependence—that surrounds them, but what stands out is the resilience of these women in the face of events that would be insurmountable tragedies for most middle- and upper-class Americans. It is unlikely this book will engender new and widespread respect for welfare mothers, for the ``welfare queen'' myth draws its strength from what people want to believe, not misperceptions of reality. But by setting aside presuppositions and moral judgments to simply describe what he finds, Zucchino offers a substantive image of life on we

Pub Date: March 31, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-81914-7

Page Count: 363

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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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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