Sometimes overblown and repetitive, but an important, valuable toolkit that will inspire many.




In follow-up to their bestseller Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond (2007), Prendergast, a human-rights activist and co-founder of the Enough Project, and actor Cheadle urge ordinary citizens to take action against genocide, the recruitment of child soldiers and the use of rape as a war weapon in African nations.

Hoping to galvanize readers, the authors trace the history of these “heinous and despicable” war tactics, which have resulted in some 10 million deaths in the last 20 years in east and central Africa, and tell the stories of U.S. and African activists who have worked to foster the political will and policies needed to put an end to these abuses. The authors demonstrate how individuals can reach the point where they feel “enough is enough” when it comes to human-rights outrages, and actually do something as a result. Examples include: An Ohio minister, moved by a newspaper story, got church members to participate in rallies and petition drives to help survivors of war in Darfur; students visiting Uganda witnessed an attack involving child soldiers of the Lord’s Resistance Army and created a group that involves hundreds of thousands of young people in efforts to end the child militia. An award-winning filmmaker met rape victims in the war-torn Congo, wondered why the world isn’t “tearing its hair out at the horror of this” and made the widely viewed film The Greatest Silence (2007), which sparked global action. Focusing on genocide in Darfur, child-soldier recruitment in Uganda and sexual violence in the Congo, Prendergast and Cheadle chronicle actions by diverse individuals, including survivors, teachers and journalists, as well as such celebrities as Sheryl Crow and Angelina Jolie. Noting that the Obama Administration’s strong stand against human-rights crimes makes this an opportune moment for activists to press for action, the authors suggest a comprehensive strategy for ending each wartime abuse. They list more than a dozen ways in which people can take a stand, from calling government officials to organizing teach-ins.

Sometimes overblown and repetitive, but an important, valuable toolkit that will inspire many.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-307-46482-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Three Rivers/Crown

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2010

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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.


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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