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THE SURVIVORS OF THE CLOTILDA

THE LOST STORIES OF THE LAST CAPTIVES OF THE AMERICAN SLAVE TRADE

A welcome history of defiance and survival.

Transcontinental trauma and its legacy.

Of the 10.7 million Africans displaced to the Americas between the 16th and late 19th centuries, 103 landed in Alabama in July 1860 on the Clotilda. Infamous as the last slave ship to arrive in the U.S., the Clotilda has been the subject of several recent histories and a documentary, which, along with rich archival sources, inform British historian Durkin’s vivid recounting. In searing detail, she relates the circumstances of the Africans’ capture by Dahomeyan kidnappers, the cruelty they endured as enslaved people, and their valiant efforts to assert their West African heritage when they finally were freed. After a long incarceration in Africa as they waited for slave buyers to arrive, family members were forcibly separated—mothers from infants, husbands from wives—and those chosen were stripped and crammed into the ship’s hold for a horrific ocean journey. Although the slave trade had been outlawed in the U.S. since 1808, bans were poorly enforced. A group of pro-slavery conspirators funded the voyage; a wily captain navigated the ship to avoid detection; and when the crew threatened mutiny, they were bribed and threatened into submission. With the Africans offloaded, the Clotilda was set on fire, and its human cargo hidden on a plantation. Although the trafficking scheme soon became known, government officials failed to find the Africans or prosecute the conspirators. One by one, enslavers came to make their purchases. Durkin depicts the “incessant labour and violence” and the culture of virulent racism they found as freed men and women. Nevertheless, they endured: Some established a “self-sufficient community” they called Africa Town. They defied white efforts to keep them from voting, and they married, owned land, and raised families. Generations later, their descendants became active in the civil rights movement. The book includes maps, photos, and artwork.

A welcome history of defiance and survival.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2024

ISBN: 9780063072992

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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POVERTY, BY AMERICA

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

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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

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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