BLOOD AND BONE

TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION IN A SOUTHERN TOWN

A transplanted Southerner explores the aftermath of the 1968 shootings of unarmed black college students by highway patrolmen in his hometown of Orangeburg, S.C.

When Shuler (English/Denison Univ.; Calling Out Liberty: The Stono Slave Rebellion and the Universal Struggle for Human Rights, 2009, etc.) came across a copy of The Orangeburg Massacre (1970) by Jack Bass and Jack Nelson, what he read launched him on a quest to discover how the town had dealt with the event in the wake of the violence and the current status of race relations there. The author traveled to Orangeburg in 2009 and 2010 and interviewed dozens of people, including both blacks and whites who were there in 1968. Among his interviewees were businessmen, ministers, the mayor, even a highway patrolman, who happened to be the author's great-uncle. Their stories often conflict, reflecting their complicated feelings, perceptions and prejudices, the "narratives deep in the blood and bone of the community.” What is not in dispute is that many black students were injured, three were killed and nine highway patrolmen were tried and found not guilty. No compensation was made to victims' families, and one black civil-rights activist was tried, convicted of rioting, jailed and later pardoned. Although public officials have issued apologies, Shuler makes clear that the reconciliation process is long and begins with listening to and paying attention to each other's stories. Orangeburg remains a town struggling with a damaged reputation and divided by race and class. It is also, the author points out, a symptom of a larger problem across the country, which demands that we look at our history closely and come to grips with the underlying issue of racism. Filled with the voices of men and women willingly or reluctantly responding to a journalist's probing, Shuler's report paints a dark picture with glimmers of light.  

 

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-61117-048-1

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Univ. of South Carolina

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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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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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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