A cautionary, timely gay rights manifesto with teeth.

IT'S NOT OVER

GETTING BEYOND TOLERANCE, DEFEATING HOMOPHOBIA, AND WINNING TRUE EQUALITY

The noted outspoken gay journalist and radio host passionately appeals to the gay community to resist complacency in the struggle for equality.

In a thought-provoking call to arms, Signorile (Hitting Hard: Michelangelo Signorile on George W. Bush, Mary Cheney, Gay Marriage, Tom Cruise, the Christian Right and Sexual Hypocrisy in America, 2005, etc.) masterfully combines quotations and interviews from his satellite radio show with historical facts from the ever evolving gay rights movement to reiterate the “disconnect between the way we talk about the strides forward and the reality on the ground.” As revolutionary as the advancements in LGBT equality may appear, much work remains. Anti-gay violence, vicious schoolyard bullying, transphobia, Hollywood “gatekeep[ing],” and widespread discrimination in the name of religion are still occurring at alarming rates. The author surveys an impressive variety of contentious incidents (many already addressed on his radio program) ranging from the controversial, “morally complex” resignation of anti-gay Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich to extreme cases of homophobic bigotry, industry double standards, and hate crimes. Though it’s crystal clear whose side he’s on, Signorile fair-mindedly contrasts his pro-gay stance with contradicting conservative political and religious-leaning perspectives, and he points out the inherent flaws in their dictums. He severely criticizes the Republican Party for enacting widespread legislation based on the doctrine of “religious liberties.” By rebranding their backlash against marriage equality, the author shows how it directly threatens the freedoms of the LGBT community. Furthermore, he writes, this type of manipulative legal and social maneuvering places many other minority populations at risk for legalized discrimination as well. A summary of empowering steps forms a galvanizing takeaway for readers interested in making a difference. Though a tad vainglorious in spots, the thrust of Signorile’s urgent message is cogent and heartfelt, creating an essential reminder to the LGBT community to continue pressing forward toward the ultimate goal of “full civil rights and true equality.”

A cautionary, timely gay rights manifesto with teeth.

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-38100-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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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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