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 lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

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THIS IS YOUR MIND ON PLANTS

Building on his lysergically drenched book How to Change Your Mind (2018), Pollan looks at three plant-based drugs and the mental effects they can produce.

The disastrous war on drugs began under Nixon to control two classes of perceived enemies: anti-war protestors and Black citizens. That cynical effort, writes the author, drives home the point that “societies condone the mind-changing drugs that help uphold society’s rule and ban the ones that are seen to undermine it.” One such drug is opium, for which Pollan daringly offers a recipe for home gardeners to make a tea laced with the stuff, producing “a radical and by no means unpleasant sense of passivity.” You can’t overthrow a government when so chilled out, and the real crisis is the manufacture of synthetic opioids, which the author roundly condemns. Pollan delivers a compelling backstory: This section dates to 1997, but he had to leave portions out of the original publication to keep the Drug Enforcement Administration from his door. Caffeine is legal, but it has stronger effects than opium, as the author learned when he tried to quit: “I came to see how integral caffeine is to the daily work of knitting ourselves back together after the fraying of consciousness during sleep.” Still, back in the day, the introduction of caffeine to the marketplace tempered the massive amounts of alcohol people were drinking even though a cup of coffee at noon will keep banging on your brain at midnight. As for the cactus species that “is busy transforming sunlight into mescaline right in my front yard”? Anyone can grow it, it seems, but not everyone will enjoy effects that, in one Pollan experiment, “felt like a kind of madness.” To his credit, the author also wrestles with issues of cultural appropriation, since in some places it’s now easier for a suburbanite to grow San Pedro cacti than for a Native American to use it ceremonially.

A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-29690-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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