In this superbly researched book, acclaimed LGBT scholar Faderman (My Mother’s Wars, 2013, etc.) examines the roots of the...

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THE GAY REVOLUTION

THE STORY OF THE STRUGGLE

The history of the struggle for gay rights in the United States.

In this superbly researched book, acclaimed LGBT scholar Faderman (My Mother’s Wars, 2013, etc.) examines the roots of the sociopolitical movement that, for the last 60 years, has worked to achieve justice for LGBT people. The author begins in the 1950s, when “the government, the law, the church, [and] the psychiatric profession all colluded to tell homosexuals they were guilty just by being who they were.” Yet a brave few individuals—e.g., Harry Hay, Phyllis Lyon, and Del Martin—took action by creating organizations intended to offer safe alternatives to gay and lesbian bars. In these groups, homosexuals could offer each other support and seek the respect they desired from mainstream heterosexual society. As the organizations grew, they assimilated ideas from such political catalysts as the burgeoning civil rights movement. By 1969, the Stonewall riots revealed a far more radicalized community, contingents of which created political groups that actively agitated for civil rights rather than simple respect. Mainstream society responded with “family values” movements led by such icons as Anita Bryant. Her anti-gay zeal actually worked to unite the LGBT community and help its members push for political change at the local and then, into the 1980s and beyond, national levels. Faderman documents the tragedy of AIDS and how that epidemic also brought together gays and lesbians and created a still greater sense of solidarity among homosexuals, who, by the 1990s, had begun to press for workplace protections as well as recognition of gay and lesbian families. The author concludes with the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, specifically its provision that marriage be defined in heterosexual terms only. Throughout this engaging and extremely well-documented book, Faderman clearly shows that for the LGBT community, equality is not a completed goal. Yet the ideal of fully integrated citizenship is closer to becoming reality than ever before.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4516-9411-6

Page Count: 760

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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

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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

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