A plaintive but fiery plea that clearly shows the strength of the author’s convictions.



In this debut memoir, a black single mother fights a losing battle against Idaho institutions on behalf of her disabled daughter.

The author asserts that God saved her daughter, Robyn, when she suffered a stroke in 2007. Myers-Edwards now seeks to reveal the medical negligence that caused her daughter’s stroke; the legal ineptitude and deception that prevented the author from pressing her case; and the uncaring systems that blocked her attempts for recourse at every step. After her divorce, Myers-Edwards moved to Idaho with her children to seek a fresh start for her family. Robyn started to experience odd, numbing episodes, and the author took her to a physician for a diagnosis. He prescribed Zomig, an anti-migraine medication. Robyn took the drug following another episode and had a stroke shortly after. Suddenly she was fighting for her life in a hospital, and Myers-Edwards had to leave her work at the Idaho Department of Labor to care for her. The doctors were pessimistic, but Robyn slowly recovered after her family prayed. Her routine had to be readjusted, with an Individualized Education Plan and an aide to support her through school. In 2009, Myers-Edwards began her malpractice case against the physician who prescribed Zomig. But, she charges, she soon realized that changes had been made to her daughter’s medical records that supported his actions (a history of headaches). According to the author, her lawyer lied to her about expert witness testimony and mysteriously decided to withdraw from the case. Myers-Edwards then became aware of a larger pattern. The author contends that the Idaho Falls Police Department quietly silenced her official complaints: It stopped responding to her emails after claiming to take on the investigation. From the beginning of her moving book, Myers-Edwards passionately discloses her intentions to expose wrongdoing. She tells readers that she suspects her story could be evidence of racism in the Idaho government. Examining the witness testimony, correspondence, and official records included in this lucid work, readers can easily spot the inconsistencies for themselves. But without further interviews, sources, and research, the account isn’t able to dig very far into the details of the corruption the author claims she witnessed. Still, her stirring tale demonstrates the challenge that obtaining legal justice can pose in America for anyone without vast financial resources.

A plaintive but fiery plea that clearly shows the strength of the author’s convictions.

Pub Date: June 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4974-4017-3

Page Count: 211

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2018

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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.


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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