A useful book that reveals what might be considered a secret shame but that is hiding in plain sight.

INVISIBLE AMERICANS

THE TRAGIC COST OF CHILD POVERTY

An economics analyst proposes a simple solution to the complex problem of child poverty—give those children cash.

In the acknowledgements, Madrick (Seven Bad Ideas: How Mainstream Economists Have Damaged America and the World, 2014, etc.), a contributor to the New York Review of Books and the Nation, thanks his publisher for supporting his work in general and “this book in particular, whose subject is dense and not very accessible.” His approach, heavy on statistics and critique of policy in programs known by acronyms, seems intended more to influence policymakers, government officials, and liberal activists rather than tug at the heartstrings of the public at large. Yet he builds a strong case that child poverty in America is “moral tragedy,” with as many as 25% of American children suffering from such deprivation. He systematically traces the cycle, beginning with prenatal care (or lack thereof) and continuing through food and housing insecurities, economically segregated schools with substandard resources, and poor employment prospects. If our economic policies are keeping such a large percentage of children in such a cycle of poverty, why does society permit it? Because we don’t agree on the severity of the problem or where the poverty line should be set. We don’t agree on whose fault it is, often blaming the poor for bad habits, little initiative, and a tendency to have children they can’t support. In other words, the “culture of poverty,” which Madrick attacks forcefully, particularly in regard to the black community. “Ideological battles over the origins of poverty,” writes the author, “are not an abstraction—they have consequences for the poor, for policy and for a way that Americans understand who is to blame for poverty.” We have Social Security to help keep older citizens out of poverty; we need something similar for the young. “I believe,” writes Madrick, “we should provide monthly, substantial, and unconditional cash allowances for all children through disbursements to their families.”

A useful book that reveals what might be considered a secret shame but that is hiding in plain sight.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-45-149418-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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