With fresh research, the authors effectively humanize the women who never received the nominations they deserved.

SHORTLISTED

WOMEN IN THE SHADOWS OF THE SUPREME COURT

Two law professors collaborate to tell the political and personal sagas of women publicly considered for appointment to the Supreme Court but never actually nominated by a president.

Before the 1981 confirmation of Sandra Day O’Connor as the first woman Supreme Court justice ever, it appeared that several presidents would remove the gender barrier. However, political partisanship as well as misogyny scuttled every potential nominee. Though three women have followed O’Connor—Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1993), Sonia Sotomayor (2009), and Elena Kagan (2010)—Jefferson and Johnson rightfully remind readers that this is far from satisfactory in terms of both equity and common sense. No woman received a license to practice law in the U.S. until 1869, and that same year, “Washington University in St. Louis became the first law school to admit women.” For a time, it appeared either Herbert Hoover or Franklin Roosevelt would nominate Florence Allen, “the first woman whose name appeared on official lists of possible candidates for appointment” to the nation’s highest court. Unsurprisingly, however, Hoover and Roosevelt opted for yet another white male. After those missed opportunities for Allen, only five women received public consideration before Ronald Reagan nominated O’Connor. In the first section of the book, Jefferson and Johnson focus on the political maneuvering behind the consideration of each candidate. In the second section, the authors examine the personal and professional attributes of the shortlisted women, hoping to identify relevant lessons about the “gendered consequences” of being publicly considered but not nominated. The lessons involve successfully battling tokenism; overcoming stereotypes about motherhood or, alternately, childlessness; being subjected to examinations of sexuality, including the character of romantic partners; dealing with discrimination regarding older women; and navigating objections that women justices decide judicial disputes differently from men, and perhaps inappropriately.

With fresh research, the authors effectively humanize the women who never received the nominations they deserved.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4798-9591-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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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