A thorough and concise look into the technologically saturated future.

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THE GREAT CONNECTING

THE EMERGENCE OF GLOBAL BROADBAND AND HOW THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING

A researcher assesses both the challenges and the potentially transformative power of global internet access.

As ubiquitous as the internet may seem, debut author Cashel observes, a considerable swath of the world—its poorest parts—remains without access to it, “locked out” of one of the most significant technological inventions of this era. But there are good reasons to believe that will change soon, in particular the plummeting costs associated with satellite technology, which effectively delivers faster and higher quality broadband service. In addition, major companies like Google and Facebook, with commercial interests in reaching more customers, are experimenting with new ways to supply the developing world with internet access. Facebook has been using drones as instruments of delivery, and Google has been harnessing balloons. Moreover, governmental institutions are making a contribution as well; in 2010, the United Nations established the Broadband Commission for Digital Development and considers the general adoption of broadband access central to the achievement of its other developmental goals for poorer nations. The author astutely raises an important question: How will the widespread promulgation of broadband—what Cashel calls the “Great Connecting”—affect otherwise disadvantaged populations? He provides a searching discussion of the many ways—financial, medical, political, and communicative, just to name a few—in which broadband will positively alter the socio-economic landscapes of the beneficiaries. In addition, the author assesses the challenges, particularly the use of the internet as a tool of extremist hate and political oppression. Finally, he presents a series of thoughtful solutions to these impediments and a kind of road map for governments and investors alike to accelerate the process and clear inevitable hurdles. Cashel is a researcher and visiting fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and so it is unsurprising his study is impressively exacting. At the same time, it’s an exceedingly practical work and draws heavily not only on theory and data, but also on the author’s travels to the developing world. Unfortunately, his optimism can be excessive; for example, especially after the last year of revelations about Facebook’s business, it is remarkable he can write: “The good news is that Facebook does have in its mission statement—and undoubtedly in its corporate DNA—the idea of making the world a better place.” Still, this remains an incisive tour of a complex set of issues. 

A thorough and concise look into the technologically saturated future. 

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63576-645-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Radius Book Group

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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