A powerful and thought-provoking book of social science.

PUSHOUT

THE CRIMINALIZATION OF BLACK GIRLS IN SCHOOLS

A writer and educator explores how various learning environments marginalize black girls and push them away from positive and productive futures.

The concept of the “school-to-prison” pipeline has long dominated discourse about the relationship of the education and juvenile justice systems, especially where young people of color are concerned. Morris (Black Stats: African Americans by the Numbers in the Twenty-first Century, 2014), the co-founder of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute, builds on previous work in which she discussed the way that “the ‘pipeline framework’ has been largely developed from the conditions and experiences of males.” Poverty is one of the most daunting challenges black girls face, and they have a far greater likelihood of incarceration than girls of other races. But even when they do find employment, they earn less than both black and white men. They also live in more violent environments and die of homicide at shockingly high rates and young ages. Rather than help uplift these girls, however, Morris argues that the public school system participates in their further marginalization through zero-tolerance–type discipline policies such as detention, suspension, and expulsion. It also hurts them by reducing black girls to their sexuality and/or understanding them according to race and gender stereotypes that characterize them as loud, aggressive, and disrespectful. So girls are not pushed into jails or the streets to be exploited and abused, schools—including those at juvenile detention centers—must become “bastions of community building, where healing is the center of…pedagogy.” The personal stories at the heart of the author’s discussion create a compelling study that puts a human face on both suffering and statistics. Combined with the many suggestions she offers throughout the book for creating healthier learning environments for black girls, Morris' book offers both educators and those interested in social justice issues an excellent starting point for much-needed change.

A powerful and thought-provoking book of social science.

Pub Date: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62097-094-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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