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RED, WHITE & BLIND

THE TRUTH ABOUT DISINFORMATION & THE PATH TO MEDIA CONSCIOUSNESS

A well-researched assessment of 21st-century media.

Freelance journalist Brasunas critiques modern media in this nonfiction work.

As an American citizen living in China during Britain’s 1997 transfer of Hong Kong, the author saw firsthand the power of the media in shaping public opinion. He observes that while American media emphasized concerns for the freedoms of the island’s people, the Chinese media’s response was predictably celebratory. It wasn’t until he worked as a journalist for the Huffington Post in the United States, however, that Brasunas developed his understanding of the ways systemic issues of internal censorship and bias influence American media. The author’s experiences covering presidential campaign events with activist Ralph Nader in 2000 and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016 failed to align with the national media’s coverage, which either ignored the candidates altogether or dismissed their supporters with derisive monikers like “Bernie Bros.” The author offers readers a detailed history of media manipulation throughout U.S. history, from World War I propaganda to deliberate CIA misinformation campaigns. He goes on to present case studies of contemporary news stories in which, Brasunas asserts, corporate media and mainstream journalists were complicit in burying stories or were derelict in their ethical duty to investigate an issue beyond the official government narrative, from the 2003 invasion of Iraq to the 2019 sexual abuse case involving financier Jeffrey Epstein. A self-described progressive, the author targets what he sees as right-wing media misrepresentation, but he is also willing to highlight failures of left-leaning outlets, such as Facebook’s and Twitter’s coverage (or lack thereof) of Flint, Michigan’s water crisis. The book’s convincing critiques of the current state of American media are balanced by later chapters that are more optimistic in tone, offering readers pragmatic advice on how to consume a “Balanced Media Diet” and tips for informational literacy. Brasunas’ disdain for and distrust of media-anointed experts (including Anthony Fauci, the former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) and exhortations to “think for yourself” may echo some right-wing sentiments, but the book questions both conservative and liberal spins on most issues. Its impressive research is backed by almost 60 pages of endnotes that reference sources across the ideological spectrum.

A well-researched assessment of 21st-century media.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9781667874432

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Torchpost

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2023

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UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A JEW

An important dialogue at a fraught time, emphasizing mutual candor, curiosity, and respect.

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Two bestselling authors engage in an enlightening back-and-forth about Jewishness and antisemitism.

Acho, author of Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, and Tishby, author of Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth, discuss many of the searing issues for Jews today, delving into whether Jewishness is a religion, culture, ethnicity, or community—or all of the above. As Tishby points out, unlike in Christianity, one can be comfortably atheist and still be considered a Jew. She defines Judaism as a “big tent” religion with four main elements: religion, peoplehood, nationhood, and the idea of tikkun olam (“repairing the world through our actions”). She addresses candidly the hurtful stereotypes about Jews (that they are rich and powerful) that Acho grew up with in Dallas and how Jews internalize these antisemitic judgments. Moreover, Tishby notes, “it is literally impossible to be Jewish and not have any connection with Israel, and I’m not talking about borders or a dot on the map. Judaism…is an indigenous religion.” Acho wonders if one can legitimately criticize “Jewish people and their ideologies” without being antisemitic, and Tishby offers ways to check whether one’s criticism of Jews or Zionism is antisemitic or factually straightforward. The authors also touch on the deteriorating relationship between Black and Jewish Americans, despite their historically close alliance during the civil rights era. “As long as Jewish people get to benefit from appearing white while Black people have to suffer for being Black, there will always be resentment,” notes Acho. “Because the same thing that grants you all access—your skin color—is what grants us pain and punishment in perpetuity.” Finally, the authors underscore the importance of being mutual allies, and they conclude with helpful indexes on vernacular terms and customs.

An important dialogue at a fraught time, emphasizing mutual candor, curiosity, and respect.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781668057858

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon Element

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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