With the recent granting of the 2016 Summer Olympics to Rio de Janeiro, Rohter’s accomplished overview proves a solid...

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BRAZIL ON THE RISE

THE STORY OF A COUNTRY TRANSFORMED

A timely, readable study of Brazil’s history and current prospects.

Having traveled and lived in the country since the early ’70s, New York Times culture reporter Rohter has found that Brazil’s motto of “Order and Progress”—once denigrated as “Disorder and Backwardness”—has finally come to fruition. From a country where 80 percent of the population once lived in the countryside, the other 20 in the cities, the percentages are now reversed, and Brazil’s current 200 million inhabitants make up the fifth most populous country in the world. The country also has a land area greater than the continental United States. Self-sufficient in oil and gas, the world’s foremost manufacturer of ethanol, thanks to the country’s forward-thinking use of the abundantly renewable sugarcane, and with the staggering natural resources of the Amazon at its disposal—to disastrous ecological results—Brazil is indeed a global force to be reckoned with. From the succession of military dictatorships of the late ’60s to the ’70s, accompanied by the so-called economic Brazilian Miracle of the early ’70s, to the slide into the comfortable democracy of charismatic leaders Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva—the latter has been the presiding president since 2002—the country has achieved political stability and huge economic growth during the last 15 years. Rohter looks at the rich makeup of the country, starting with a (too) cursory history of the Portuguese arrival in 1500, who displaced but did not annihilate the indigenous tribes; the curse of the importation of African slaves (slavery wasn’t abolished until the 1880s); and the racial mixing that came to define Brazilian culture—curiously, the “white elite” endorsed the “whitening” of the black population for the purposes of superior “ethnic composition” well up to 1945. The author also offers an evenhanded consideration of some of Brazil’s most celebrated artifacts, including Carnaval, soccer and samba. Overall, he depicts a tolerant people intent on being taken seriously.

With the recent granting of the 2016 Summer Olympics to Rio de Janeiro, Rohter’s accomplished overview proves a solid brush-up.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-230-61887-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2010

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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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