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IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S CAPITALISM

WHY IT'S TIME TO BREAK UP AND HOW TO MOVE ON

A radical textbook for budding socialists, uncompromising in its attention to race in the story of global capitalism.

A cheeky introduction to anti-capitalist theory with a focus on race.

This takedown of capitalism is equal parts explanation, rejoinder, and manifesto. Jabali, a senior news and politics editor at Essence, employs the overarching metaphor of a toxic romance to illustrate how capitalism works to keep its subjects from imagining a better, healthier world. Ultimately, capitalism is “your average gaslighter.” The author’s vibrant language works together with memes and emoji-esque graphics to make this book a breeze to read, but her brazen, sometimes cringey tone draws on a deep well of theory and historical analysis. The book’s most compelling feature is Jabali’s focus on nonwhite and non-Western socialist theorists and leaders, which makes it a valuable resource for a wide audience. Entry-level readers will learn the basics of capitalism, socialism, and colonialism. Regarding the latter, the author writes, “today, capitalism compels the ownership class to continually amass more capital with less input and cheaper labor in order to remain com­petitive, just as the colonial powers of the past competed internation­ally for resources and workers to plunder. So what if it meant millions of people would come to be considered an inferior race, with lasting, devastating effects for a few centuries?” Readers who may have never connected with socialism may find satisfaction in encountering a diverse set of socialists who have built on Marxist orthodoxy. Such scholars, writes Jabali, “realized the OG communist theories weren’t one-size-fits-all, especially given how integral racism was in creating and maintaining capitalism in other parts of the world.” Full-page, bright infographics and abundant sidebars demonstrate historical events and deploy statistics to argue how capitalism is inextricable from racism and that “rare case[s] of racial solidarity” are invaluable building blocks of working-class power. Other chapters examine current affairs such as health care, housing, debt, the climate crisis, and campaign finance.

A radical textbook for budding socialists, uncompromising in its attention to race in the story of global capitalism.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781643752648

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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POVERTY, BY AMERICA

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

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A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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