Not an apologia for resistance to immigration but rather a nuanced, important analysis of an issue fraught with...

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THE BACKLASH AGAINST IMMIGRATION AND THE FATE OF WESTERN DEMOCRACY

A well-researched and authoritatively written analysis that resists easy answers and generalizations regarding the complex problems of immigration.

American readers surprised by the rise of Donald Trump will see here that it is part of a phenomenon that extends from Holland and Denmark to Australia and South Africa, rearranging age-old political affinities and forging unlikely alliances in the process. A former Rhodes Scholar, op-ed editor at the New York Times, and senior editor at Foreign Affairs, Polakow-Suransky (The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa, 2010), currently a fellow at the Open Society Foundation, plainly views the collapse of liberal democracy with alarm. Refreshingly, however, he generally steers clear of polemics and demonization, giving those on what he terms the “new far right” their voice and showing how widespread resistance to immigration in general, and Muslim immigration in particular, has moved from the fringes to the mainstream. He shows how working-class liberalism has suffered a split between ideologues more concerned with identity politics and social issues and voters who pine for the way things used to be and feel like their parties have abandoned their interests in favor of minority rights and religious tolerance. The author demonstrates how tensions throughout much of Europe are even greater than those in America, which has more of a melting-pot tradition and less of an indigenous character to its population. He also shows the tensions between secularized societies and immigrants whose conservative, sometimes fundamentalist beliefs can seem repressive to the culture at large and who might be seen as betraying their religious beliefs if they assimilate. Furthermore, many of those opposed to immigration, some former liberals, voice fears that the Muslim minority will become the European majority and thus “lead France and other European countries to civil war.”

Not an apologia for resistance to immigration but rather a nuanced, important analysis of an issue fraught with complications.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-56858-592-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Nation Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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