Intelligent and richly insightful.

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CINDERELLA ATE MY DAUGHTER

DISPATCHES FROM THE FRONT LINES OF THE NEW GIRLIE-GIRL CULTURE

New York Times Magazine contributor Orenstein (Waiting for Daisy, 2007, etc.) investigates the impact of early sexualization on girls.

In this witty, well-documented study, the author of Schoolgirls (1994) examines the not-so-innocent side of princess culture represented by Cinderella and her sister Disney royals. Orenstein looks at the way race-based images of idealized female beauty and behavior, themselves the product of aggressive and manipulative marketing campaigns, influence preteen girls. Before they reach kindergarten, female children have already been indoctrinated in the idea that how they look is more important than who they are. Foundations have been laid for the idea that prettiness—and a narcissistic concern with the external self—is the true path to empowerment. The main issue Orenstein addresses, however, is whether Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel and Belle (and their less popular, darker-skinned counterparts, Mulan and Pocahontas) protect young girls from early sexualization or prepare them to be consumers of clothes, grooming aids, toys, music and other forms of media that seem to celebrate underage sexuality. During the course of her research, Orenstein visited the Toy Fair (“the industry’s largest trade show”), specialty “girl” stores such as American Girl Palace, the Universal Royalty Beauty Pageant for preteen girls, a Miley Cyrus concert and social-networking sites such as Webkinz and Facebook. The author discovered that while girls have more role models than ever before to show them that they can become anything they wish, they are also under much greater pressure from an extraordinarily young age to prove their femininity. That Orenstein is the mother of a young, biracial daughter makes the narrative even more readable than her bestselling earlier writings on girlhood and self-esteem. Rather than writing as a concerned but detached observer, she approaches her subject as a parent seeking practical ways to negotiate a complex cultural landscape that has been as confusing for her as a mother and woman as it has been potentially damaging for the girl she is raising.

Intelligent and richly insightful.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-171152-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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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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