A cogent argument for gender parity and a revealing look at cultural change.

BROAD INFLUENCE

HOW WOMEN ARE CHANGING THE WAY AMERICA WORKS

How women effect change once they reach a critical mass.

As a political correspondent for TIME, journalist Newton-Small investigated the response of women senators to the government shutdown in 2013. Her article about their bipartisan efforts to foster negotiations led her to a broader investigation into women’s influence in government, the judiciary, business, police forces, and the military. Interviews with more than 200 women inform her thoughtful, often inspiring debut book. The author argues that once women’s participation reaches at least 20 percent of a group, they can “change the culture and influence outcomes.” She found this “critical mass” in Congress, now 20 percent female; the current presidential administration (30 percent), and federal judgeships (35 percent)—but not in the private sector. On corporate boards, “women who served alone were often ignored…and their views discounted” until they numbered three or more. Many of her subjects are prominent, outspoken, and recognizable: Nancy Pelosi, for example, who “played politics on a man’s field and played it better than any of them,” and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. But Newton-Small also explores the contributions of Tulsi Gabbard, who served in Iraq, was elected to Congress from Hawaii, and educated her male peers about women’s military experiences; Erie Meyer, who left the “frat-boy culture” of a tech firm to work in the Ohio Attorney General’s office; and Elizabeth Bondurant, a New Jersey police chief who believes that women are more likely than men to defuse a hostile situation through talking. From these conversations, the author concludes that women bring particular skills and perspectives to any culture, including facility with communication and propensity to listen, compromise, and form alliances. She also finds “a good deal of evidence that women are inherently risk-averse,” making it less likely that the scandal incited by Lehman Brothers would have occurred at Lehman Sisters.

A cogent argument for gender parity and a revealing look at cultural change.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61893-155-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Time Inc. Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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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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