Heartfelt sentiments on how racism, gender equality, and other social and cultural issues in America can be changed for the...

WRITINGS ON THE WALL

SEARCHING FOR A NEW EQUALITY BEYOND BLACK AND WHITE

Insights into life from the cultural commentator and former Hall of Fame basketball player.

Combining his personal experiences as a black Muslim male with statistical data, research, and a bit of humor, Abdul-Jabbar (On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance, 2010, etc.) explores the divisions in the United States along lines of race, class, religion, and gender, and he offers concrete, easily implemented solutions to fix these ongoing problems. Opening with an examination of the Constitution, the author explains why this document is still a vital part of American democracy. “Too often people who are all puffed up on their own ideals of patriotism propose actions that are contrary to what the country stands for in an effort to codify their personal beliefs as law,” he writes. “These are America’s greatest threat….The genius of the Constitution is that it was written by men who acknowledged their own frailties and biases.” To uphold the Constitution, we must elect officials who think critically about the issues in front of them and use reliable, nonpartisan research to make informed decisions. Providing children with a solid education is the first step. Abdul-Jabbar confronts the race issue head-on, giving readers numerous facts that unequivocally show that racism is still widespread. He suggests public awareness, anti-racist laws, and more minorities on TV and in movies will help combat this. The author also voices the difficulties he’s faced due to his religion, and he proposes interfaith activities and hate-crime laws to ease the tension. Abdul-Jabbar also covers gender equality and the plight of the elderly. His concerns are deep, his arguments well-founded, and his solutions straightforward. The trick is to get people to listen, but Abdul-Jabbar provides a good jumping-off point.

Heartfelt sentiments on how racism, gender equality, and other social and cultural issues in America can be changed for the betterment of all.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61893-171-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Liberty Street/Time Inc. Books

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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