A professor’s lecture notes run amok.




Forty years after the heydey of the Civil Rights movement, blacks find themselves in a quandary, unable to deduce who is racist.

So asserts Jackson (Communications and Anthropology/Univ. of Pennsylvania; Real Black: Adventures in Racial Sincerity, 2005, etc.) in a rambling, repetitive text burdened by academic jargon. With lynching (almost) a historical memory and public use of the word “nigger” taboo, racial prejudice is now exhibited in more subtle ways that have given rise to a debilitating paranoia among blacks, he argues. Jackson cites as evidence media reports, publications by other academics and Internet chatter. In a wildly disjointed discussion, he revisits the saga of Dave Chappelle, who in 2005 famously walked away from a purported $50 million contract for his hit television show on Comedy Central. Jackson notes that Chappelle was driven to take a hiatus from his career after a white staffer laughed at a sketch he performed in blackface. The comic could not discern whether the staffer was laughing with or at him—a common conundrum for blacks at a time when political correctness reigns. The author also probes a 2006 conflict involving former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who was detained by a white Capitol Hill cop after bypassing a metal detector at her office. Successful blacks like McKinney, who alleged she was a victim of racial profiling, routinely evoke suspicion in halls of power, writes Jackson. He suggests that whites can help blacks conquer racial paranoia—he uses the phrase ten times on a single page—by making friends across racial lines, buying homes in diverse neighborhoods and avoiding predominately white day-care centers. Readers are likely to be stunned by Jackson’s revelation that some blacks feel they receive less cream cheese on their bagels than whites.

A professor’s lecture notes run amok.

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-465-00216-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Basic Civitas

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2008

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


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.


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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