A book that won’t change minds but that will give anti-Trumpers plenty of grist for the mill.

AUTHORITARIAN NIGHTMARE

TRUMP AND HIS FOLLOWERS

In which the characters of the sitting president and his followers are weighed and found seriously wanting.

“Anyone who has had a serious ‘discussion’ with a Trump supporter may have noticed that facts and logic bounce off right off them.” So write Dean—yes, that Dean, still going strong nearly half a century after Watergate—and Altemeyer, a Canadian psychologist who developed the RWA [right-wing authoritarianism] Scale. That RWA test, among other measures, helps explain a great deal about Trump’s supporters, whose numbers might seem to be dwindling but whose convictions grow ever stronger. Those who score high on the RWA instrument are revealed to believe in a welter of confusing and contradictory matters, have considerable difficulty in sorting fact from fiction, and have no problem with double standards. “Take their ready acceptance of Trump’s labeling Hillary Clinton as Crooked Hillary" when Trump's actions regarding charities in New York state "was so illegal that the state has banned him from ever operating a charity in New York again. Thus, there is no doubt about Trump being Crooked Donald, who has single-handedly given charity a bad name." That doesn’t faze the pro-Trump crowd, who give him a free pass precisely because, according to the test, they are fearful that their world is disintegrating and are in need of a strongman to protect them from a host of imagined evils. By the authors' account, Trump is nothing but a chain of personality flaws (“His driveway has not reached the main road for a long, long time”) that he learned at the feet of his master, Roy Cohn, and secondarily from Richard Nixon, such lessons as “if you have a vulnerability, tell everybody your opponent reeks of it.” Whether Trump gains a second term or not, the authors conclude, the strong authoritarian base that exists in the country guarantees continued polarization for years to come.

A book that won’t change minds but that will give anti-Trumpers plenty of grist for the mill.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61219-905-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Melville House

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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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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This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN

A former NFL player casts his gimlet eye on American race relations.

In his first book, Acho, an analyst for Fox Sports who grew up in Dallas as the son of Nigerian immigrants, addresses White readers who have sent him questions about Black history and culture. “My childhood,” he writes, “was one big study abroad in white culture—followed by studying abroad in black culture during college and then during my years in the NFL, which I spent on teams with 80-90 percent black players, each of whom had his own experience of being a person of color in America. Now, I’m fluent in both cultures: black and white.” While the author avoids condescending to readers who already acknowledge their White privilege or understand why it’s unacceptable to use the N-word, he’s also attuned to the sensitive nature of the topic. As such, he has created “a place where questions you may have been afraid to ask get answered.” Acho has a deft touch and a historian’s knack for marshaling facts. He packs a lot into his concise narrative, from an incisive historical breakdown of American racial unrest and violence to the ways of cultural appropriation: Your friend respecting and appreciating Black arts and culture? OK. Kim Kardashian showing off her braids and attributing her sense of style to Bo Derek? Not so much. Within larger chapters, the text, which originated with the author’s online video series with the same title, is neatly organized under helpful headings: “Let’s rewind,” “Let’s get uncomfortable,” “Talk it, walk it.” Acho can be funny, but that’s not his goal—nor is he pedaling gotcha zingers or pleas for headlines. The author delivers exactly what he promises in the title, tackling difficult topics with the depth of an engaged cultural thinker and the style of an experienced wordsmith. Throughout, Acho is a friendly guide, seeking to sow understanding even if it means risking just a little discord.

This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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