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ESSENTIAL

HOW THE PANDEMIC TRANSFORMED THE LONG FIGHT FOR WORKER JUSTICE

A thoughtful consideration of work and the workaday world that brings the class struggle to the fore.

A sociologist shows how the pandemic has changed the world of work irrevocably, but there’s more to be done.

“Work is a scam. We spend far too much time doing it, and most people aren’t paid anything close to the amount of value their labor creates.” So writes McCallum in this timely follow-up to Worked Over: How Round-the-Clock Work Is Killing the American Dream. Meanwhile, the rich profit from that scam—one reason, notes the author, is that they have been working so vigorously to create a narrative by which working-class Americans aren’t working hard enough. That’s not at all the case, McCallum insists. With the pandemic and its unfair demands on those classified as “essential workers”—health care workers, to be sure, but also truck drivers and meat packers—the result was a “Great Reassessment” that became a “Great Resignation” that “helped fuel the Great Discontent,” with its rejection of low-wage jobs on the part of those who were able to search for something better. Much of that essential work, especially that which involved caregiving, has barely been valued at all, considered unskilled and compensated accordingly; given demographics, that caregiving work is only going to expand. “As the so-called invisible hand of the market attempts to push us off an ecological cliff,” writes McCallum, “it’s the invisible hands of the behind-the-scenes care workers that are propping up our care infrastructure.” Reasonably enough, the author calls for a revised Green New Deal package of programs that considers care workers to be essential workers indeed—and that includes a Medicare-for-all component to boot. Meanwhile, he notes, the capitalists aren’t sitting still. While some have accepted that in order to rebuild the labor market, they’ll have to pay more, others are pushing the “gig economy,” hiring scabs, and otherwise attempting to shore up an old, utterly broken status quo.

A thoughtful consideration of work and the workaday world that brings the class struggle to the fore.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5416-1990-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A JEW

An important dialogue at a fraught time, emphasizing mutual candor, curiosity, and respect.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

Two bestselling authors engage in an enlightening back-and-forth about Jewishness and antisemitism.

Acho, author of Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, and Tishby, author of Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth, discuss many of the searing issues for Jews today, delving into whether Jewishness is a religion, culture, ethnicity, or community—or all of the above. As Tishby points out, unlike in Christianity, one can be comfortably atheist and still be considered a Jew. She defines Judaism as a “big tent” religion with four main elements: religion, peoplehood, nationhood, and the idea of tikkun olam (“repairing the world through our actions”). She addresses candidly the hurtful stereotypes about Jews (that they are rich and powerful) that Acho grew up with in Dallas and how Jews internalize these antisemitic judgments. Moreover, Tishby notes, “it is literally impossible to be Jewish and not have any connection with Israel, and I’m not talking about borders or a dot on the map. Judaism…is an indigenous religion.” Acho wonders if one can legitimately criticize “Jewish people and their ideologies” without being antisemitic, and Tishby offers ways to check whether one’s criticism of Jews or Zionism is antisemitic or factually straightforward. The authors also touch on the deteriorating relationship between Black and Jewish Americans, despite their historically close alliance during the civil rights era. “As long as Jewish people get to benefit from appearing white while Black people have to suffer for being Black, there will always be resentment,” notes Acho. “Because the same thing that grants you all access—your skin color—is what grants us pain and punishment in perpetuity.” Finally, the authors underscore the importance of being mutual allies, and they conclude with helpful indexes on vernacular terms and customs.

An important dialogue at a fraught time, emphasizing mutual candor, curiosity, and respect.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781668057858

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon Element

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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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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