A passionate call for nurturing tolerance and diversity.

SACRED GROUND

PLURALISM, PREJUDICE, AND THE PROMISE OF AMERICA

The furor over the establishment of the “Ground Zero Mosque” underscores this interfaith leader’s urgent plea for pluralism.

The Chicago-based founder of the Interfaith Youth Core and appointee to President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council, Patel (Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, 2007, etc.) writes out of a deep concern over the virulence found in the “anti-Muslim blogosphere” in reaction to Imam Feisal’s plans for a Muslim community center near ground zero. Planned by Feisal as a “place of peace, a place of services and solutions for the community,” Cordoba House nonetheless raised hackles among conservatives, who branded even moderates like Feisal and Patel, who have devoted their careers to interfaith cooperation, as extremists. Nearly 10 years after 9/11, the community was stunned by the verbal attacks, and Patel wondered how anti-Muslim fervor could have again reached this pitch. He sought out some of the model leaders for guidance, such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, fiercely devoted to taking an inclusive, pluralistic approach; popular American Muslim speaker Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, who welcomed the current conservative backlash as “a national discussion we’ve needed to have”; and the Dalai Lama, who declared his ignorance of Islam and proceeded to immerse himself in the study of the religion. Especially elucidating is Patel’s exploration of historical examples of American bigotry, including Peter Stuyvesant’s banning of Quaker prayer meetings and the pernicious current of anti-Catholicism in national politics, from the Know Nothing Party of 1854 to the Evangelical opposition to JFK’s candidacy for president. Catholicism was deemed anti-freedom, hierarchical and bent on world domination, much as Shariah is considered today. Patel looks at what truly works in inculcating interfaith cooperation: bringing youth of all backgrounds together to share stories and develop personal understanding.

A passionate call for nurturing tolerance and diversity.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8070-7748-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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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 PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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