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HIS NAME IS GEORGE FLOYD

ONE MAN'S LIFE AND THE STRUGGLE FOR RACIAL JUSTICE

A brilliant biography, history book, and searing indictment of this country’s ongoing failure to eradicate systemic racism.

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An intimate look at the life of the Black man whose murder sparked worldwide protests and a reinvigoration of the movement for racial justice.

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd died beneath the knee of White Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The video of the killing made Floyd “a global icon for racial justice,” write Washington Post journalists Samuels and Olorunnipa. Through painstaking research and more than 400 interviews, the authors sought to learn, “Who was George Floyd? And what was it like to live in his America?” As a child, Floyd dreamed of making a name for himself. “He was young, poor, and Black in America—a recipe for irrelevance in a society that tended to push boys like him onto its margins,” write the authors. “But he assured everyone around him that, someday, he would make a lasting impact.” As an adult, Floyd faced challenges related to addiction, mental health, education, employment, poverty, and criminal activity. Samuels and Olorunnipa trace more than 300 years of American history and Floyd’s family history, placing his death within the context of the systemic racism that shaped his life. The authors got haircuts from Floyd’s barber, visited the communities he called home, and talked to his extended family, friends, lovers, teachers, and acquaintances “to help the world to see Perry [as Floyd was known] as they saw him.” Writing with cogency and compassion, the authors free Floyd from the realm of iconography, restoring his humanity. In these powerful pages, he emerges as a sensitive man with ambitions, successes, and failures. Both his loving nature and his despair are palpable, conveyed in heartbreaking detail. The recounting of his death is devastating to read, and the aftermath, despite his killer’s conviction, is somber. Sadly, the congressional police reform bill named for Floyd remains unpassed.

A brilliant biography, history book, and searing indictment of this country’s ongoing failure to eradicate systemic racism.

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-49061-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

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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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