A sobering, frightening account of what happens when that foul beast, racism, breaks its fragile leash. (16 pp. b&w...

THE BURNING

THE MASSACRE AND DESTRUCTION OF A PLACE CALLED GREENWOOD

A chilling re-creation of the worst instance of racial violence in US history—the 1921 destruction by rampaging whites of a black neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Journalist Madigan (See No Evil, not reviewed) believes the Tulsa riot deserves a more prominent place in the ugly history of racial conflict—and his diligent research and graceful writing will certainly help. He begins on June 1, 1921, with the memories of a little girl. Her mother woke her with a scream: “The white people are killing the colored folks!” And so they were. Before the day ended, the white mob burned 35 square blocks of Greenwood (virtually the entire community), murdered as many as 300 blacks (many did not escape their flaming homes), arrested hundreds more, and drove into the hills thousands of black citizens whose slow procession northward would in the 20th century become an all-too-common image. Two planes flew overhead, firing down into the black crowds. Many had fought back with every weapon at their disposal (dozens of whites died by gunshot, too), but they were outnumbered and out-gunned by whites who broke into hardware stores to steal firearms and ammunition. What had happened? Greenwood was a “model” community—a peaceful, prosperous (though entirely segregated) neighborhood whose residents for the most part worked for white employers. The author uses multiple points of view to capture the dimensions of the tragedy. It began when a young white woman, an elevator operator, falsely accused a young black man of assaulting her. Many whites resolved to lynch the man; many blacks resolved to prevent the lynching. Both groups were armed, and when they clashed outside the courthouse, the wheels of tragedy were set in motion. Madigan follows his riveting account of the violence with the sordid story of denial and cover-up that ensued.

A sobering, frightening account of what happens when that foul beast, racism, breaks its fragile leash. (16 pp. b&w photographs, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-312-27283-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2001

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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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