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BLACK DIGNITY

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST DOMINATION

A bold attempt to determine the conditions of—and the means for achieving—racial justice.

A philosopher imagines how racial activism might be reconceived.

Black dignity, Lloyd explains, involves the uncompromising affirmation of Black humanity against those who would deny it. In this book, the author, a professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova, tests the status of such affirmations in contemporary activism, offering recommendations for reform that draw on Western philosophical methods, the insights of seminal Black thinkers, and the truths revealed by key historical precedents. His approach strikes a balance between so-called “activist rhetoric,” aimed at generating political momentum, and the articulation of “systematic theory” and more formal explications of how specific conclusions have been reached. Blending the practical and theoretical in this way can feel unsatisfying when it comes to some of Lloyd’s most provocative claims: that “anti-Black racism is not just about bad choices, or about people who failed their diversity exam. It is at the center of everything, for everyone”; that Blackness serves as “the ultimate paradigm of dignity” or that “the possibility of assimilation is forever closed to Blacks.” These concepts demand a more thorough and nuanced account than he gives them. Nevertheless, the author presents striking commentary on a number of topics, including the significance of the death of Trayvon Martin, the galvanized thinking of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the productive potential of “Black Rage,” along with its balancing counterpart, “Black Love.” Lloyd incisively anatomizes the failures of multiculturalist ideals and the inadequacy of superficial reckonings with the realities of domination. The author makes it clear that acknowledging the distinctiveness of Black oppression is necessary for combatting it. Moreover, he provides intriguing interpretations of how Black experiences in America might serve as models for other efforts—such as those focused on gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation—to affirm distinctive versions of human dignity.

A bold attempt to determine the conditions of—and the means for achieving—racial justice.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-300-25367-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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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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POVERTY, BY AMERICA

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

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A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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