A powerful argument against the “virtual segregation” of schoolchildren enabled by vouchers, credits, and other instruments.

OVERTURNING BROWN

THE SEGREGATIONIST LEGACY OF THE MODERN SCHOOL CHOICE MOVEMENT

A civil rights activist and attorney convincingly demonstrates that Brown v. Board of Education barely put a dent in unequal public schooling.

As Suitts (Hugo Black of Alabama: How His Roots and Early Career Shaped the Great Champion of the Constitution, 2005), the founding director of the Alabama Civil Liberties Union, notes, the Deep South was the epicenter of resistance to school desegregation in the 1950s and ’60s. Politicians such as Orval Faubus, Jesse Helms, and George Wallace may have stood in schoolhouse doors and filed flurries of lawsuits, but, in the end, more sophisticated adherents to the segregationist cause found a subtle workaround: They would create a parallel system of private schools that could maintain racial separation while also benefiting from public dollars in the form of tax credits, vouchers, and even direct payments. There were countless faux declarations of “freedom of choice,” so long as black parents did not choose to send their children to white schools, while at the same time eliminating “any suggestion from the state constitution that there is a right of education or an obligation of the state to fund public schoolchildren.” Those schemes have since spread nationwide and are now ardently promoted by the likes of Betsy DeVos, the sitting secretary of education, part of whose considerable fortune comes from investments in private schools. “Freedom of choice” was subsequently enshrined by the libertarian economist Milton Friedman, whose utterances are held sacred by the right. As Suitts shows, although the cast of segregationist leaders of the past has been narrowed to “a small rogues’ gallery,” their legacy is widespread and their followers are legion while “contemporary private school patterns and practices…appear for what they are: legacies of class-based southern segregation used to evade Brown and multi-dimensional segregation of non-southern states before Brown.” Indeed, writes the author, more than half of American states now use vouchers to support private schools with public funds, making it likely that inequality will continue for a long time to come.

A powerful argument against the “virtual segregation” of schoolchildren enabled by vouchers, credits, and other instruments.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-58838-420-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: NewSouth

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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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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