As he ends this relevant and well-grounded book, Williams tells Trump that African-Americans have “a lot” to lose, “far...

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WHAT THE HELL DO YOU HAVE TO LOSE?

TRUMP'S WAR ON CIVIL RIGHTS

During the presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump reached out to African-American voters by asking, “what the hell do you have to lose?” Here is a cogent response from a veteran journalist.

Williams (Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate, 2011, etc.), currently a columnist at The Hill, provides detailed answers to Trump’s question regarding six different realms of government discrimination against African-Americans, using the Civil Rights Act as approved by Congress in 1964 as his guide for selecting those elements. Other key laws include the Fair Housing Act and the Voting Rights Act. In each area, the author documents the dreadful early record of the Trump administration, followed by a succinct history of the civil rights gains made against stiff opposition during the second half of the 20th century. As Williams focuses on the gains, he singles out a primary advocate in each of the six realms: voting rights (Bob Moses), education (James Meredith), public accommodations (Everett Dirksen), equal rights legislation (James Baldwin), employment (A. Philip Randolph), and housing (Robert Weaver). Williams is an accomplished storyteller; as a result, the oft-documented historical gains in each chapter feel fresh again. Trump has been shamed countless times for translating his racist tendencies into abhorrent public policy, so Williams does not mount any groundbreaking attacks. However, his skillful succinctness makes his anti-Trump commentaries often devastating. Some readers might consider the author’s account of past gains overly enthusiastic. He notes that while never deviating from accepted factual accounts, he intends for the historical context of the gains to spawn inspiration. Williams writes that he feels optimistic about the post-Trump future for civil rights because those on the correct side of the law can rely on far more resources, digital and otherwise, than their predecessors.

As he ends this relevant and well-grounded book, Williams tells Trump that African-Americans have “a lot” to lose, “far more, it appears, than [Trump] will ever know.”

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5417-8826-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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