The rotating format offers little in the way of analysis and very few conclusions, but the author offers valid testimony for...

JUST LIKE FAMILY

AN INTIMATE LOOK AT NANNIES, THE PARENTS THEY WORK FOR, AND THE CHILDREN THEY LOVE

A sympathetic look at the lives and work of three nannies.

When Blaine quit her office job to become a nanny, hoping it would allow her more time to make use of her MFA, she lasted only six months. The challenges of being intimately involved with a family without being part of it inspired her to give voice to women who are “paid by the hour to love.” The author’s case studies follow Claudia, a Caribbean immigrant in New York working to send money home; Vivian, a Nanny of the Year award winner whose goal is to “educate the public on the importance of nannies and set standards for the industry;” and Kim, a compassionate divorcée lending her expertise in newborns to a wealthy couple in Austin, Texas. Blaine gives equal attention to the women's personal and professional lives. Claudia left her infant son to bring her family out of poverty and was shocked when she realized the streets of New York weren't paved with gold. Her employer bailed her out when she faced eviction, but admitted to wishing that Claudia would be more proactive in her kids' upbringing. Vivian fulfilled that role in a borderline overbearing way, considering herself a third parent and the primary disciplinarian. Despite battling self-esteem issues from abusive relationships and obesity, Vivian is a confidently outspoken board member of the International Nanny Association. She clashed with the Domestic Workers United when they sought legislation to raise the minimum wage; she believed nannies' salaries should be merit-based. Kim endured two failed marriages and three miscarriages, then found herself living with a domineering employer who treated her like a servant. Nearly all of Blaine’s examples are characterized by demanding fathers, from whom the nannies seek to protect their charges, and understanding mothers struggling to balance work and family.

The rotating format offers little in the way of analysis and very few conclusions, but the author offers valid testimony for the specific concerns of women in an industry increasingly in the spotlight.

Pub Date: June 9, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-15-101051-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2009

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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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