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

READ REVIEW

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

  • National Book Award Winner

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?

more