A slim volume that successfully presents “treasures, surprises, and rewards.”

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ARAB SPRING DREAMS

THE NEXT GENERATION SPEAKS OUT FOR FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FROM NORTH AFRICA TO IRAN

Law student Ahmari and Weddady, civil rights outreach director of the American Islamic Congress, present the “most compelling voices” from an essay competition they organized shortly after Lebanon's Cedar Revolution in 2005.

The online competition was designed to give a means of expression to individuals under the age of 25 looking to find their voices on issues of religious and political freedom and human rights. During a five-year period, the editors received more than 8,000 essays from 22 countries in four languages. Each year the writers were asked to share either an example of the “pain of repression,” or concrete projects designed to strengthen civil rights or dreams of a better future. As a byproduct the process also opened pathways to recruit activists. The editors present the essays under three headings: “Trapped,” “Unequal” and “Breaking Through.” The views expressed by the essayists reflect an impressively diverse cross-section of the Middle Eastern world. From Iran came contributions from the Baha’i and the Sunni religious minorities. The Baha’i are not allowed to participate in Iran's educational institutions, and Sunni ways of praying are banned in Shia Iran. The appeal for religious freedom also came from Saudi Arabia, where a student explores her process of standing up for herself against a repressive teacher. Also included are horrifying accounts of fundamentalist violence from Algeria and pleas for Western-style freedoms for homosexuals, along with accounts of the persecution of women.

A slim volume that successfully presents “treasures, surprises, and rewards.”

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-230-11592-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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

NIGHT

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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