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WE ARE HOME

BECOMING AMERICAN IN THE 21ST CENTURY: AN ORAL HISTORY

A provocative work that urges reconsideration of immigration rights in a nation of immigrants.

A broadcaster delivers a charged account of the lives of immigrants.

When Donald Trump snarled to the members of Congress’s progressive “Squad” that they should “go back where they came from,” although three of the four were U.S. born, “it was not a violation but a reminder,” implying that although they were as American as Trump, they were somehow different. “I heard what he said and immediately knew what he meant,” writes Suarez, author of Latino Americans. “And so did you.” It’s something most immigrants experience at some point, more so if they lack the required paperwork. One of Suarez’s subjects is a first responder whose heroic actions during a Houston hurricane saved many lives; despite this, he is subject to “regular reminders he is not like his neighbors”—at least until his immigration status is settled. The son of Hungarian immigrants recounts that although both parents were experienced doctors, they were denied accreditation until they went through another internship and residency, doubtless a way to keep outsiders out rather than any bulwark for reasons of safety, given the shortage of doctors in the country. In this blend of oral and social history, Suarez turns up a fascinating account of a Sikh who came to the U.S., served in the Army during World War I, and was granted citizenship by a federal court, which was then revoked by the Bureau of Naturalization for reasons of race, with an appellate court asked to rule on the question, “Is a high-caste Hindu of full Indian blood…a white person?” Sadly, such racial divides endure, as strong as ever. The easiest-going of Suarez’s subjects is a blonde New Zealander who admits, “I was very conscious of the difference between me and other undocumented people.”

A provocative work that urges reconsideration of immigration rights in a nation of immigrants.

Pub Date: April 23, 2024

ISBN: 9780316353762

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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THE AGE OF GRIEVANCE

A welcome call to grow up and cut out the whining.

The New York Times columnist serves up a cogent argument for shelving the grudge and sucking it up.

In 1976, Tom Wolfe described the “me decade” as a pit of mindless narcissism. A half century later, Bruni, author of Born Round and other bestselling books, calls for a renaming: “‘Me Turning Point’ would have been more accurate, because the period of time since has been a nonstop me jamboree.” Our present cultural situation, he notes, is marked by constant grievance and endless grasping. The ensuing blame game has its pros. Donald Trump, he notes, “became a victor by playing the victim, and his most impassioned oratory, such as it was, focused not on the good that he could do for others but on the bad supposedly done to him.” Bruni is an unabashed liberal, and while he places most of the worst behavior on the right—he opens with Sean Hannity’s bleating lie that the Biden administration was diverting scarce baby formula from needy Americans to illegal immigrants—he also allows that the left side of the aisle has committed its share of whining. A case in point: the silencing of a professor for showing an image of Mohammed to art students, neither religiously proscribed nor done without ample warning, but complained about by self-appointed student censors. Still, “not all grievances are created equal,” he writes. “There is January 6, 2021, and there is everything else. Attempts by leaders on the right to minimize what happened that day and lump it together with protests on the left are as ludicrous as they are dangerous.” Whether from left or right, Bruni calls for a dose of humility on the part of all: “an amalgam of kindness, openness, and silliness might be an effective solvent for grievance.”

A welcome call to grow up and cut out the whining.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781668016435

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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