A useful study, even for those who are not guilt-ridden.

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RACIST AMERICA

ROOTS, CURRENT REALITIES, AND FUTURE REPARATIONS

A sometimes searing indictment of American racial practices.

Sociologist Feagin (White Racism, not reviewed) traces the development of American racism to its roots in Europe. Ideologically, race was not a major consideration in human endeavors until the beginning of the European slave trade in the 1400s, Feagin tells us. But some 300 years later, it had grown full-blown and become a major cornerstone of intellectual thought—dominated by such thinkers as Locke, Kant, and Hegel, and by the Frenchman Joseph Arthur de Gobineau. All of these harbored anti-black views to varying degrees, including the curious natural-law notion that blacks somehow were born to be slaves. Much of this 18th-century twaddle was absorbed by our Founding Fathers, especially by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and James Madison. Feagin also examines Reconstruction, the lynchings of the late–19th and early–20th centuries, the Civil Rights era, and the post–Civil Rights period. As we enter a point in the new millennium where the white population is beginning to shrink, Feagin points out that less than half the population of America’s four largest cities (New York, Los Angeles, Houston, and Chicago) is white. This and other factors lead Feagin to call for an international view of civil rights (i.e., one in which all are entitled to equal concern because all are human beings and not members of this or that state or tribe). Feagin, who is avowedly influenced by Franz Fanon and Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), is at his overwrought best when he is in historical pursuit of the roots of racism. Perhaps because it is something not readily fresh on the mind, it is a matter of more than idle curiosity what Benjamin Franklin and James Madison thought about “whiteness.” On the other hand, matters such as affirmative action and reparations are too widely discussed and familiar to make Feagin’s discussion of them very interesting or fresh.

A useful study, even for those who are not guilt-ridden.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-415-92531-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Routledge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2000

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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