A wake-up call for the American dream.

A PERILOUS PATH

TALKING RACE, INEQUALITY, AND THE LAW

An edited transcript of a probing, provocative conversation on the national narrative in the Trump era.

To commemorate the opening of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at the New York University School of Law, founding director Thompson, a professor at the school, convened a panel including former attorney general Lynch, NAACP Legal Defense Fund president Ifill, and Equal Justice Initiative executive director Stevenson to discuss the major problems and challenges facing the country. Thompson launches the discussion by saying, “racism is embedded in the DNA of America. But while people of color have disproportionately felt its effects, it’s an American problem. In fact, it is the American problem.” Such framing is crucial because the narrative the participants hope to advance is not one of marginalized minorities but rather of the moral, economic, and human costs to the nation as a whole. Law and government play important parts in this conversation, but the discussion makes clear just how deeply embedded these problems are within American society and how solutions must be addressed in our schools, libraries, neighborhoods, and even transportation systems. As Ifill wisely notes, “people think about civil rights as something that over there, these black people are doing. And what I always want people to understand is that that kind of equality principle is actually unifying, and essential to unite us all.” The discussion presents a striking contrast between governmental initiatives today and those of the Obama administration while suggesting that if these are times of great struggle, they are also times of great determination and hope. The participants are pretty much in agreement and all on the same side, but one of the precepts of the book would seem to be that there is no other side.

A wake-up call for the American dream.

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62097-395-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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

NIGHT

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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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

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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