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Cogent reminders that armed rebellion isn’t the only answer to social injustice.

In tribute to this country’s long tradition of grassroots protests, a dozen significant clashes.

Opening with a claim that we humans are “hardwired” to respond with disgust to anything seen as “fundamentally unfair,” Kluger offers a roster of flash points—most of which marked change rather than directly causing it but all milestones in the annals of American social discourse and attitudes. Some, such as Stonewall, were more or less spontaneous uprisings; others, from the March on Washington in 1963 to the 2017 Women’s March, were carefully (if sometimes hastily) orchestrated. Likewise, if the Seneca Falls convention and 1982’s immense anti-nuke rally in New York were (relatively) peaceful, aggressive police responses made the demonstrations outside the Democratic National Convention in 1968 and the Dakota Access uprising in 2016-17 anything but. Unfortunately, Kluger never explains that in framing his account of the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance as one battle in a centurieslong struggle of the “Great Sioux Nation” against a mythic “black snake,” he is not contriving a metaphor but paraphrasing Native American protesters’ statements. Nevertheless, in every case he expertly brushes in historical contexts and properly notes that not every proud “liberation tale” here resulted in unqualified, or even partial, success. Photos at each chapter head not seen.

Cogent reminders that armed rebellion isn’t the only answer to social injustice. (source note, index) (Nonfiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-51830-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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From the Race to the Truth series

Deftly written and informative; a call for vigilance and equality.

An examination of the history of Chinese American experiences.

Blackburn opens with a note to readers about growing up feeling invisible as a multicultural, biracial Chinese American. She notes the tremendous diversity of Chinese American history and writes that this book is a starting point for learning more. The evenly paced narrative starts with the earliest recorded arrival of the Chinese in America in 1834. A teenage girl, whose real name is unknown, arrived in New York Harbor with the Carnes brothers, merchants who imported Chinese goods and put her on display “like an animal in a circus.” The author then examines shifting laws, U.S. and global political and economic climates, and changing societal attitudes. The book introduces the highlighted people—including Yee Ah Tye, Wong Kim Ark, Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, and Vincent Chen—in relation to lawsuits or other transformative events; they also stand as examples for explaining concepts such as racial hierarchy and the model minority myth. Maps, photos, and documents are interspersed throughout. Chapters close with questions that encourage readers to think critically about systems of oppression, actively engage with the material, and draw connections to their own lives. Although the book covers a wide span of history, from the Gold Rush to the rise in anti-Asian hate during the Covid-19 pandemic, it thoroughly explains the various events. Blackburn doesn’t shy away from describing terrible setbacks, but she balances them with examples of solidarity and progress.

Deftly written and informative; a call for vigilance and equality. (resources, bibliography, image credits) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9780593567630

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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Ultimately adds little to conversations about race.

A popular YouTube series on race, “Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man,” turns how-to manual and history lesson for young readers.

Acho is a former NFL player and second-generation Nigerian American who cites his upbringing in predominantly White spaces as well as his tenure on largely Black football teams as qualifications for facilitating the titular conversations about anti-Black racism. The broad range of subjects covered here includes implicit bias, cultural appropriation, and systemic racism. Each chapter features brief overviews of American history, personal anecdotes of Acho’s struggles with his own anti-Black biases, and sections titled “Let’s Get Uncomfortable.” The book’s centering of Whiteness and White readers seems to show up, to the detriment of its subject matter, both in Acho’s accounts of his upbringing and his thought processes regarding race. The overall tone unfortunately conveys a sense of expecting little from a younger generation who may have a greater awareness than he did at the same age and who, therefore, may already be uncomfortable with racial injustice itself. The attempt at an avuncular tone disappointingly reads as condescending, revealing that, despite his online success with adults, the author is ill-equipped to be writing for middle-grade readers. Chapters dedicated to explaining to White readers why they shouldn’t use the N-word and how valuable White allyship is may make readers of color (and many White readers) bristle with indignation and discomfort despite Acho’s positive intentions.

Ultimately adds little to conversations about race. (glossary, FAQ, recommended reading, references) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-80106-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2021

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