An urgent call for racial justice that demands attention, discussion, and action.

STATE OF EMERGENCY

HOW WE WIN IN THE COUNTRY WE BUILT

Activist and organizer Mallory sounds an alarm against complacency now that a new administration is in the White House.

American history has been full of terrible moments for Black people, but one of particularly pressing importance happened recently. “To wake up on January 6, 2021,” writes the author, “to see a noose hanging in front of the United States Capitol while domestic terrorists breached the complex where our congressional leaders met to legislate, was paralyzing.” Paralyzing but not unexpected: Mallory’s next thought was, “Wow, they finally did it.” The Trump administration, whose leader fomented the revolt, is gone, but the enemies of Black progress remain. Against that, writes the author, “it is not enough to be nonracist.” Black activists and their White allies—who are welcome if they are “careful not to try to own the fight”—must commit to being anti-racist, to constantly combat racism and its exponents. Mallory delivers a series of rules that one wishes were ironic: “Don’t talk back,” reads one, since the consequence is that “You will be deemed dangerous,” while another counsels not to wear a hoodie. Because “my undiluted Blackness is worth fighting for,” the author urges a well-organized movement of resistance that involves, among other tenets, stopping to record every encounter of Black persons and the police, taking down names and badge numbers and filing complaints. Despite her well-thought-through program, which concludes with the rule “Be unapologetic about your Blackness until they respect it,” Mallory calls herself a contributor to and not a leader of the Black Lives Matter movement (she also co-founded the Women’s March on Washington), a movement whose necessity remains self-evident even with the new Biden-Harris presidency: “They must turn over the soil in order to grow a new political landscape for us all.” This is the first book from the Black Privilege imprint, led by radio and TV personality Charlamagne Tha God.

An urgent call for racial justice that demands attention, discussion, and action.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982173-46-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Black Privilege Publishing/Atria

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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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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Everything about Sabathia is larger than life, yet he tells his story with honesty and humility.

TILL THE END

One of the best pitchers of his generation—and often the only Black man on his team—shares an extraordinary life in baseball.

A high school star in several sports, Sabathia was being furiously recruited by both colleges and professional teams when the death of his grandmother, whose Social Security checks supported the family, meant that he couldn't go to college even with a full scholarship. He recounts how he learned he had been drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the first round over the PA system at his high school. In 2001, after three seasons in the minor leagues, Sabathia became the youngest player in MLB (age 20). His career took off from there, and in 2008, he signed with the New York Yankees for seven years and $161 million, at the time the largest contract ever for a pitcher. With the help of Vanity Fair contributor Smith, Sabathia tells the entertaining story of his 19 seasons on and off the field. The first 14 ran in tandem with a poorly hidden alcohol problem and a propensity for destructive bar brawls. His high school sweetheart, Amber, who became his wife and the mother of his children, did her best to help him manage his repressed fury and grief about the deaths of two beloved cousins and his father, but Sabathia pursued drinking with the same "till the end" mentality as everything else. Finally, a series of disasters led to a month of rehab in 2015. Leading a sober life was necessary, but it did not tame Sabathia's trademark feistiness. He continued to fiercely rile his opponents and foment the fighting spirit in his teammates until debilitating injuries to his knees and pitching arm led to his retirement in 2019. This book represents an excellent launching point for Jay-Z’s new imprint, Roc Lit 101.

Everything about Sabathia is larger than life, yet he tells his story with honesty and humility.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-13375-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Roc Lit 101

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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