An enthusiastic, optimistic update on how immigrant Americans are changing the political landscape, promoting reform, and...




An astute appraisal of how the state of American democracy is being preserved by unexpected political newcomers.

New American Leaders founder Bhojwani, who served as the first commissioner of immigrant affairs in New York City, profiles an impressive selection of current and formerly elected immigrant officials who have made a difference in their districts. Though she admits that the present political climate is bleak, she shows that there is hope and promise to be found in a new wave of campaigns by “newly energized” first- and second-generation Americans groomed by her group to inspire inclusiveness in government. Through legislative term limits and district-based elections, these newcomers have a better opportunity to run for office. In accessible prose, Bhojwani presents a wide canvas of success stories, each one reflective of a predominantly marginalized minority group, and how they got elected. With built-in skepticism, each candidate acknowledged that by running for public office, they would be individually “sacrificing personal comfort for public service” and that this exposure would be heightened by underlying racism and their “perceived otherness” as immigrants. The author spotlights Raquel Castañeda-López, a vibrant Mexican-American dedicated to her councilwoman post for Detroit’s Latinx- and African-American–populated District 6; Ilhan Omar, a petite but fiercely committed Somali-American Muslim member of Minnesota’s state legislature; Harvard-educated Jose Moreno, who, despite excessive campaign contributions from a domineering Walt Disney Company, beat out an opposing incumbent to win a seat on Anaheim, California’s city council; and Sam Park, the first openly gay man elected to the Georgia General Assembly. In 2002, Bhojwani herself joined city government, armed with passion and uncertainty but also with a steely determination to directly address “the disconnect between who Americans are and who our leaders are, between how we see ourselves and how we are seen, between the power we have and the power we have a right to.”

An enthusiastic, optimistic update on how immigrant Americans are changing the political landscape, promoting reform, and providing an all-encompassing voice for our multiracial country.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62097-414-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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