by Elijah Anderson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Dec. 28, 2021
A largely surface-level study of modern Black communities.
A Black scholar uses ethnographic data to describe the plight of Black communities in modern America.
In this analysis of modern Black life, Anderson, a professor of sociology and African American studies at Yale, examines how Black people of various class levels navigate what he calls the “white space” of mainstream America. According to the author, Americans automatically connect Black people with the negative concept of “the ghetto,” regardless of where these individuals actually reside or where they come from. Anderson claims that associating Black folks with poor, crime-ridden communities “has burdened Black people with a negative presumption that they are required to disprove before establishing mutually trusting relationships with others.” As a result, Black American males, especially, are overly policed and underemployed. The author also notes how many Black boys lack father figures, which, the author asserts, contributes to their interest in a life of crime. Writing about how these problems are particularly challenging for “ghetto” families that identify as “street” rather than “decent,” terms the author says were used by his interview subjects, Anderson also argues that the power of the image of the ghetto in the White imagination ensures that even middle-class and upper-class Blacks constantly have to fight for fair treatment and against racism. Although the book purportedly draws on “ethnographic fieldwork” Anderson conducted for his previous work, the author not only fails to describe his methodology; he also goes pages without mentioning a single piece of original data. His analysis is highly descriptive, rather than analytical, and he focuses mostly on individual actions—and, in particular, the actions of Black, able-bodied males—more than the pervasive structural inequalities that plague Black Americans. Many of his points are solid and worthy of further discussion, but they have been more rigorously explored by previous scholars.A largely surface-level study of modern Black communities.
Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021
Page Count: 272
Publisher: Univ. of Chicago
Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021
Share your opinion of this book
by Matthew Desmond ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 21, 2023
A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.
A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.
“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.
Pub Date: March 21, 2023
Page Count: 288
Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023
Share your opinion of this book
by Ta-Nehisi Coates ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 8, 2015
This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
New York Times Bestseller
National Book Award Winner
Pulitzer Prize Finalist
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
Page Count: 176
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015
Share your opinion of this book
Hey there, book lover.
We’re glad you found a book that interests you!