An intelligent, well-reasoned case for freedom of movement in an era of walls and fences.

THIS LAND IS OUR LAND

AN IMMIGRANT'S MANIFESTO

Mehta (Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, 2004), an immigrant from India who now teaches journalism at New York University, turns in a powerful defense of movement in search of better lives.

“Why are you in my country?” So asked an exasperated Briton of Mehta’s grandfather, who had come to London. The answers are several, not least of them the fact that the British had, of course, come unbidden to India, and the same question applied to them: “They stole our minerals and corrupted our governments so that their corporations could continue stealing our resources.” More to the point, though, the author—who notes that at least a quarter of a billion people now live in countries other than the ones in which they were born—writes that immigrants bring economic vitality, diversity, and cultural health to the places to which they come. Sometimes they’re not coming in the numbers that one might desire, as in the case of Indians who choose to remain at home rather than staff the depleted ranks of IT workers in Germany, a place that, like so many other European nations, is now experiencing nativist resentment and the far-right politics that ensue. Why move there, asks Mehta, to a place where hatred and division reigns? It’s not just Donald Trump’s America, though Trump’s America is a poster child for this sort of intolerance: Mehta notes that Indians fear Bangladeshis, South Africans fear Zimbabweans, and so on. Even so, and despite obstacles, the author writes that “mass migration is the defining human phenomenon of the twenty-first century,” probably one that cannot be contained. Nor should we want to, for, despite Trumpian protestations that the country is full, Mehta counters, “America has succeeded, and achieved its present position of global dominance, because it has always been good at importing the talent it needs.”

An intelligent, well-reasoned case for freedom of movement in an era of walls and fences.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-27602-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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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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