Essential to any debate over the need for and way to achieve meaningful large-scale reparations.




A strong and unusually comprehensive case for making economic reparations to African Americans for the injustices of slavery as well as legal segregation (Jim Crow) and “ongoing discrimination and stigmatization.”

In this thoughtful scholarly assessment of a controversial issue, economist Darity and folklorist Mullen provide overwhelming evidence of “the pernicious impact of white supremacy” and propose a detailed program of monetary reparations, to be paid by Congress, to perhaps 40 million black descendants of slavery. “For black reparations to become a reality,” they write early on, “a dramatic change in who serves as the nation’s elected officials must take place, both in Congress and in the White House.” By chronicling racial injustices since the nation’s founding, the authors hope to “rejuvenate” discussions of the need for action to reverse “gross inequalities between blacks and whites.” Slavery’s “hothouse effect,” they write, created “vast national wealth.” It spurred shipbuilding and other industries, created the need to feed and clothe millions of enslaved blacks, and provided laborers to work plantations and help build railways and subsidize universities. After slavery, blacks continued to experience job discrimination, attenuated wealth, confinement to unsafe and undesirable neighborhoods, inferior schooling, dangerous encounters with the police and criminal justice system, and a social disdain for the value of their lives. “A variety of metrics indicate that, even after the end of Jim Crow, black lives are routinely assigned a worth approximately 30 percent that of white lives,” write the authors,” who also detail the negative impacts on black lives of federal highway construction, urban renewal, and gentrification. They consider arguments for and against reparations and examine complex possible methods of financing and making reparations (from lump sums to payments over time) that might, at the outside, cost trillions of dollars. Though academic in tone and approach, and therefore unlikely to reach a large audience of general readers, the authors are convincing in their arguments.

Essential to any debate over the need for and way to achieve meaningful large-scale reparations.

Pub Date: April 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4696-5497-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Univ. of North Carolina

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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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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