Smart, filled rightfully with righteous indignation, and demanding broad discussion and the widest audience.




“If this chapter reads like a nightmare, it is because that’s exactly what the criminal system is for an African American man”—a searing look at the interactions of law enforcement and black men by a former prosecutor.

When it comes to the law, it seems, black men inhabit a different country than white men. Granted, as Butler (Law/Georgetown Univ.; Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice, 2009) writes, acknowledging “ugly facts,” black men commit disproportionately more violent crimes, especially homicide, than Latino or white men, but they are also disproportionately likely to be victims of just those crimes. In any event, whites are far likelier to be victimized by other whites than by anyone else, even as black men, and especially young ones, are subject to what Butler calls the Chokehold: an entire system of justice that presumes their guilt and that is entirely geared to the suppression of an entire category of citizens. This system often works insidiously. As Butler writes, for instance, the Supreme Court has ruled that people with intellectual disabilities are not subject to the death penalty, because they may not be aware that they are committing crimes. However, prosecutors circumvent this by adding points to the IQ scores of minority criminals, playing on the nostrum that IQ measures traditionally discriminate against minority members and thereby raising the score of black men “enough for them to be executed.” The author writes from experience, having been charged with a crime that he did not commit and that he was able to refute only by knowledge of the system. In a depressing inventory, he offers pointers for reducing black men’s chances of being caught up in it, ranging from not wearing a hoodie (“when I put on a hoodie everybody turns into a neighborhood watch person”) to avoiding red flags: “three or more black men in a car at any time,” “black men raising their voices,” and the like.

Smart, filled rightfully with righteous indignation, and demanding broad discussion and the widest audience.

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59558-905-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2017

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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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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