A powerful and thought-provoking book of social science.



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


“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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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