A well-reasoned case for not holding one’s tongue in the presence of injustice.

THE CASE FOR RAGE

WHY ANGER IS ESSENTIAL TO ANTI-RACIST STRUGGLE

A philosophical manifesto defending anger as an effective instrument of protest against racism and oppression.

“I do not remember my first kiss. I do not remember the first book I ever read. I do remember the first time I was angry. And it was at racism.” So writes philosophy professor Cherry, recounting the day a classmate deployed the N-word against her for the first time. Her anger has not abated in the years since, even as manifestations of White supremacy proliferate. But what is one to do with that anger, even as well-meaning allies counsel people of color to respond with polite, calm counterargument? “Anger can be a force for good on the battlefield for justice,” writes the author. “We must remember this in the face of urges to abolish it altogether.” While one philosopher with whom she takes particular issue, Martha Nussbaum, calls anger “a bad strategy and a fatally flawed response,” Cherry unpacks Martin Luther King Jr.’s celebrated “Letter From Birmingham Jail” as a foundational document in what she calls “Lordean rage,” after the iconic poet and activist Audre Lorde. This Lordean rage ranks favorably in a typology of anger that she constructs, such as “wipe rage,” the wrath of the Charlottesville White supremacist marchers and their targeting of non-White and non-Christian others. Such rage, as well as the rage of narcissism, is the fevered, useless tool of the enemy, whereas “Lordean rage is a kind that is well suited to maintain itself just as it is, without needing to get out of the way so that ‘better’ emotions can get to work.” Although her argument is often repetitive, Cherry effectively shows that anger can be a positive force in organizing resistance and keeping the pressure on perpetrators of racism, sexism, and other societal ills.

A well-reasoned case for not holding one’s tongue in the presence of injustice.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-19-755734-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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A tender, well-rendered, heart-wrenching account of the way food ties us to those who have passed.

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CRYING IN H MART

A MEMOIR

A poignant memoir about a mother’s love as told through Korean food.

Losing a parent is one thing, but to also lose direct ties to one’s culture in the process is its own tragedy. In this expansion of her popular 2018 New Yorker essay, Zauner, best known as the founder of indie rock group Japanese Breakfast, grapples with what it means to be severed from her Korean heritage following her mother’s battle with cancer. In an attempt to honor and remember her umma, the author sought to replicate the flavors of her upbringing. Throughout, the author delivers mouthwatering descriptions of dishes like pajeon, jatjuk, and gimbap, and her storytelling is fluid, honest, and intimate. Aptly, Zauner frames her story amid the aisles of H Mart, a place many Asian Americans will recognize, a setting that allows the author to situate her personal story as part of a broader conversation about diasporic culture, a powerful force that eludes ownership. The memoir will feel familiar to children of immigrants, whose complicated relationships to family are often paralleled by equally strenuous relationships with their food. It will also resonate with a larger audience due to the author’s validation of the different ways that parents can show their love—if not verbally, then certainly through their ability to nourish. “I wanted to embody a physical warning—that if she began to disappear, I would disappear too,” writes Zauner as she discusses the deterioration of her mother’s health, when both stopped eating. When a loved one dies, we search all of our senses for signs of their presence. Zauner’s ability to let us in through taste makes her book stand out from others with similar themes. She makes us feel like we are in her mother’s kitchen, singing her praises.

A tender, well-rendered, heart-wrenching account of the way food ties us to those who have passed.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-65774-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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