A resonant restatement of inherent mistakes in our treatment of a workforce that is growing older.

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UNFINISHED WORK

THE STRUGGLE TO BUILD AN AGING AMERICAN WORKFORCE

Despite reports of the impending cognitive impairment awaiting fearful seniors, not all our elders are dotty. Valuable corporate memory, knowledge and experience are lost with premature retirements, as journalist Coleman demonstrates.

Until the definition of “old” is revised, the number of old folk increases dramatically, according to all the demographics. The cadre of baby boomers who are destined to be declared redundant at work will know disappointment and humiliation as they become unemployed. The author visits the alert elderly who want to, need to or seek to work in diverse precincts around the globe. In Japan, where there is a pronounced work ethic, Coleman finds old ladies who package leaves for garnish in restaurants and old artisans who fashion bullet-train prows by hand and can even hammer violins out of metal. Workers in France, where there’s a different work ethic, are more laid-back. Their supposed infatuation with long vacations and early retirement is producing a real shortage of experienced labor. Sweden, on the other hand, has an age management network and programs for out-placement and counseling. In La Jolla, California, Scripps Hospital offers its older staff the option of staged retirement. In the Midwest, it’s a more difficult road, but in Sarasota, where there are lots of wealthy retirees, they desire a rewarding, “protean” retirement. Coleman’s text is rife with interviews with experts and gurus and quick answers from think-tankers and self-help coaches. More effective is the author’s inclusion of input from superannuated workers who seek some income and a sense of participation in the world. As the author notes, the Great Recession has made the matter of an aging workforce urgent; career services should have a high priority for government; businesses should do better in profiting from the talents; and individuals need to prepare early for longer working lives.

A resonant restatement of inherent mistakes in our treatment of a workforce that is growing older.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-19-997445-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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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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