An inspiring, provocative encouragement to younger generations to exercise political clout.



A spirited critique of American politicians’ treatment of younger generations, and a plan of action for youth empowerment. 

According to Moon (The Beltway Beast, 2014), a 65-year-old former financial industry executive and father of three, his generation’s stewardship of American democracy has been a moral disgrace. Its greatest victim, he says, is the “MI generation,” which includes millennials and the “iGeneration,” defined as “those born after 1998.” The current crop of American political leaders, he says, has given MIs a dangerous environmental policy, a widening chasm of economic inequality, and a toxic culture of rigid partisanship. The author particularly focuses on the damage caused by student-loan debt and an incoherent health care system. In both cases, he asserts, industries are permitted to engender unchecked hyperinflation. The United States government makes billions in profit annually from student loans, he says, which threatens to financially cripple an entire younger generation. And the health care system, he writes, seems designed to deliver the most onerous costs and the most limited choice. He does offer good news, though, noting that the MI generation is loaded with talent and diversity, that it has a penchant for entrepreneurial and technological innovation, and that it will soon become a dominant voting bloc. Moon recommends a political-action plan that focuses on winning vulnerable congressional seats and offers a set of criteria for selecting suitable candidates. Despite admitting his “guilt, frustration, and anger” at the current state of things at the outset of this book, the author supplies a surprisingly sober analysis—one that’s consistently reasonable and pragmatic. He also avoids obvious partisan allegiances, dispensing plenty of criticism for both major parties and decrying an electoral system that makes it extraordinarily hard for a candidate outside the two-party system to prosper. That said, this is a very brief study that covers an expansive stretch of political terrain, and as a result, some of the arguments, particularly in the sections on health care and student debt, are more exacting than others; a section on foreign policy is sensible but covers familiar ground. Overall, though, this is an intelligent call for practical reform.

An inspiring, provocative encouragement to younger generations to exercise political clout. 

Pub Date: June 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9913721-5-7

Page Count: 152

Publisher: MGN Books

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2018

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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.


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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