A cogent and cleareyed analysis of a persistent problem.




A study of the importance of school integration to the improvement of prospects for black and Hispanic children.

With the goal of inspiring action among parents, educators, and policymakers, Johnson (Public Policy/Univ. of California, Berkeley; co-author: Mother’s Work and Children’s Lives: Low-Income Families after Welfare Reform, 2010) draws on persuasive longitudinal studies to advocate a three-tiered strategy to counter racism and social inequality: integrated schools, school finance reform, and high-quality preschool. “If mediocre education is a malign force threatening the nation,” he writes, then achieving integrated classrooms is nothing less than “a fight for our collective future that we can and must win.” Himself a “third-generation benefactor” of school reform policies, he has a personal as well as professional stake in reversing segregation. He warns, however, that no single reform offers a silver bullet for improving education, and none should be assessed too quickly. “We implement some new whiz-bang reform,” he writes, “let it run its course for a little while, but then become impatient because things haven’t improved as much as we wanted them to.” Johnson advises patience and a commitment to examining long-term impacts of such changes as equitable school funding and pre-kindergarten programs. Looking at data to determine children’s later-life success, the author asserts that Head Start, for example, when funded adequately, leads to positive educational outcomes for low-income children; but outcomes are poor when funding is low. Similarly, he correlates children’s access to health care as crucial when evaluating school reforms: “Healthier children,” he asserts, “are better learners,” underscoring “the interrelationship between early childhood investments in health and public school spending.” Integration, of course, has been at the center of much debate, and Johnson recounts the violent reaction to Brown v. Board of Education, efforts by school districts to undermine integration once their legislative mandate was lifted, and white communities’ creation of “charter districts” for their own residents. Racially and economically diverse neighborhoods, argues the author persuasively, are crucial to successful school reform.

A cogent and cleareyed analysis of a persistent problem.

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5416-7270-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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