Slightly alarmist, but necessarily so—required reading for conscientious citizens and a complement to Digital Destiny by...

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FIGHTING FOR AIR

CONGLOMERATES, CITIZENS, AND THE BATTLE TO CONTROL AMERICA'S MEDIA

An eye-opening examination of the ever-increasing power wielded by big media conglomerates.

There is a crisis going on behind the scenes of nearly every form of American media, according to Klinenberg (Heat Wave, 2003), but it’s one that average Americans aren’t likely to read about in their local newspaper, see on TV or hear about on the radio. As certain members of the FCC (supported by the Bush administration) seek to further deregulate the media industry, consumers are finding themselves with fewer sources of news, particularly important local news. Canned, prerecorded DJs dominate the airwaves; newspapers owned by mega-corporations are laying off many reporters who cover local beats (and are loathe to criticize big businesses that support them with advertising revenue); and what were once local TV broadcasts are now often farmed out to other locations, and stations are being forced to use prepackaged press videos cleverly disguised as news. Even more disturbing, notes the author, is the amount of money media lobbyists have at their disposal, money that may even be powerful enough to smother the last remaining bastion of democracy: the Internet. He hypothesizes that the day is near when service providers will be able to charge website owners a fee to provide content at high speeds—and block or considerably slow access to content on sites whose owners won’t pony up. Clear Channel and Tribune Company lead a cadre of mustache-twirling villains, while various grassroots activists and dissenting FCC commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein play the role of Don Quixote. There’s a sea of acronyms and interwoven relationships to navigate, but Klinenberg’s thorough reporting and cogent analysis clarify the complex ways in which media companies have become intertwined over recent years.

Slightly alarmist, but necessarily so—required reading for conscientious citizens and a complement to Digital Destiny by Jeff Chester (2006).

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2007

ISBN: 0-8050-7819-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2006

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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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