A powerful and thoughtful call for “a revolution of value and a radical democratic awakening” aimed at ending America’s...

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DEMOCRACY IN BLACK

HOW RACE STILL ENSLAVES THE AMERICAN SOUL

Glaude (Chair, African American Studies/Princeton Univ.; African American Religion: A Very Short Introduction, 2014, etc.) explores the worsening state of racial inequality under the nation’s first black president.

In an illuminating analysis of the crisis in black communities in the wake of the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, and others, the author argues that African-Americans have suffered “tremendously” during the presidency of Barack Obama, whose “snake oil” promises of hope and change must be viewed against the devastating effects of a “Great Black Depression.” Hardest hit by the 2008 recession, writes Glaude, African-Americans lost more than 50 percent of their wealth by 2011. They lost homes, savings, and jobs, with national black unemployment reaching 16 percent in 2010. Illustrating the effects through the stories of black families in cities around the country, the author describes the increasing poverty of black communities that have become “opportunity deserts,” where hardship and joblessness create “isolated places for disposable people.” Most white Americans remain “willfully ignorant” of such places because of a “value gap” (the belief that white people are more valued than others) and “racial habits” (unthinking behaviors that sustain the value gap). White people must examine their assumptions—that black people are dangerous—and change the country’s policies and structured racism. “White fear blinds us to the humanity of the people right in front of us,” writes Glaude, who finds plenty of blame to go around—from Obama’s disappointing lack of action in support of blacks to the failures of traditional black liberal leadership. What is required, claims the author in this forceful book, is a new grass-roots movement based on the capacities of ordinary black people and built on the successes of “black lives matter” protests.

A powerful and thoughtful call for “a revolution of value and a radical democratic awakening” aimed at ending America’s persistent racial crisis.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8041-3741-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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