Essential reading for those who parent or nurture Black children or anyone who wants to better understand race in America.

DO RIGHT BY ME

LEARNING TO RAISE BLACK CHILDREN IN WHITE SPACES

A timely and in-depth parenting guide for White parents of Black children.

The authors, longtime friends and colleagues, aim to “orient parents and other community members to the ways race and racism will affect a Black child’s life, and despite that, how to raise and nurture healthy and happy children.” Harrison is Black, and D’Angelo and her husband are the White adoptive parents of a child whose biological mother is White and whose biological father is Black. The book grew out of the authors’ ongoing conversations about race and D’Angelo’s efforts to equip her son with the perspectives he needs to thrive. White parents, write the authors, must understand systemic racism, culture, identity, privilege, White supremacy and how their Black children will navigate the world in ways that they do not have to. To “protect, nurture, educate, affirm, encourage and advocate for every child,” love isn’t enough. Talking about racism can be tough, but the authors present hard truths with aplomb, taking a deep dive into a range of topics, including positive racial identity, foundational research on transracial adoption, how racism impacts Black people’s health, racial inequity in education, and the persistent threat of violence against Black people. Ultimately, the authors call on parents and others to make specific commitments to create change within their communities and “dramatically change the social, political, and cultural system.” Harrison and D'Angelo write with an urgency and hopefulness that make progress both a mandate and something within reach. Their voices alternate throughout the text in candid and intimate conversations with each other, the reader, and the larger culture. Alongside their personal stories and real-life challenges, they present statistics and contextual history, which makes for a highly informative and compelling narrative.

Essential reading for those who parent or nurture Black children or anyone who wants to better understand race in America.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4399-1995-8

Page Count: 194

Publisher: Temple Univ. Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

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ON JUNETEENTH

The Harvard historian and Texas native demonstrates what the holiday means to her and to the rest of the nation.

Initially celebrated primarily by Black Texans, Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, when a Union general arrived in Galveston to proclaim the end of slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy. If only history were that simple. In her latest, Gordon-Reed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and numerous other honors, describes how Whites raged and committed violence against celebratory Blacks as racism in Texas and across the country continued to spread through segregation, Jim Crow laws, and separate-but-equal rationalizations. As Gordon-Reed amply shows in this smooth combination of memoir, essay, and history, such racism is by no means a thing of the past, even as Juneteenth has come to be celebrated by all of Texas and throughout the U.S. The Galveston announcement, notes the author, came well after the Emancipation Proclamation but before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Though Gordon-Reed writes fondly of her native state, especially the strong familial ties and sense of community, she acknowledges her challenges as a woman of color in a state where “the image of Texas has a gender and a race: “Texas is a White man.” The author astutely explores “what that means for everyone who lives in Texas and is not a White man.” With all of its diversity and geographic expanse, Texas also has a singular history—as part of Mexico, as its own republic from 1836 to 1846, and as a place that “has connections to people of African descent that go back centuries.” All of this provides context for the uniqueness of this historical moment, which Gordon-Reed explores with her characteristic rigor and insight.

A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-883-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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More thought-provoking work from an important creator.

THE SECRET TO SUPERHUMAN STRENGTH

The acclaimed graphic memoirist returns to themes of self-discovery, this time through the lens of her love of fitness and exercise.

Some readers may expect Bechdel to be satisfied with her career. She was the 2014 recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, and her bestselling memoirs, Fun Home and Are You My Mother? both earned universally rave reviews, with the former inspiring a Broadway musical that won five Tony awards. But there she was, in her mid-50s, suffering from “a distinct sense of dread” and asking herself, “where had my creative joy gone?” Ultimately, she found what she was seeking, or at least expanded her search. In what she calls “the fitness book,” the author recounts, from her birth to the present, the exercise fads that have swept the nation for decades, from the guru-worship of Charles Atlas and Jack LaLanne through running, biking, hiking, “feminist martial arts,” yoga, and mountain climbing. “I have hared off after almost every new fitness fad to come down the pike for the last six decades,” she writes. Yet this book is about more than just exercise. Bechdel’s work always encompasses multiple interlocking themes, and here she delves into body image; her emerging gay consciousness; the connection between nature and inner meaning; how the transcendentalists were a version of the hippies a century earlier; and how her own pilgrimage is reminiscent of both Margaret Fuller and Jack Kerouac, whose stories become inextricably entwined in these pages with Bechdel’s. The author’s probing intelligence and self-deprecating humor continue to shimmer through her emotionally expressive drawings, but there is so much going on (familial, professional, romantic, cultural, spiritual) that it is easy to see how she became overwhelmed—and how she had to learn to accept the looming mortality that awaits us all. In the end, she decided to “stop struggling,” a decision that will relieve readers as well.

More thought-provoking work from an important creator.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-544-38765-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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