An alarming report on the state of civil rights today, which favors White supremacy over any other consideration.

COUNTERREVOLUTION

THE CRUSADE TO ROLL BACK THE GAINS OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT

A critical examination of the erosion of civil rights over the past few decades.

One of the veteran sociologist’s targets in his unsparing assessment is the bland phrase race relations. Here he quotes Charles Blow: “From the beginning, the racial dynamics in America have been about power, equality and access, or the lack thereof….So what are the relations here? It is a linguistic sidestep that avoids the true issue: anti-Black and anti-other white supremacy.” The better and more comprehensive term, he suggests, is racial oppression, which gets to the point of a power dynamic that privileges White supremacy over all. In that vein, Steinberg examines the steady emergence of the idea of a “model minority”—at first, Jews, most of whom arrived on these shores as impoverished immigrants and carved out a place in American society, and lately Asians, who, in excelling in business and academics, are held up as somehow different from Black Americans. Though certainly not treated without prejudice, they suffer less from the systemic racism that holds Black citizens back. Steinberg considers the dilatory, blame-the-victim effects of the 1965 Moynihan Report, much of which was written by Nathan Glazer, a sociologist who held by commission or omission that Blacks were the authors of their own problems of poverty and other hurdles that could instead be reasonably attributed to systemic racism. Responded one Black activist at the time, “we are sick unto death of being analyzed, mesmerized, bought, sold, and slobbered over while the same evils that are the ingredients of our oppression go unattended.” The White supremacism implicit in the report came to the fore in the Reagan years, disguised in terms such as states’ rights and limited government. It emerged in full fury during the Trump regime, which achieved disenfranchisement by suppressing the Black vote—a process that is ongoing in many states.

An alarming report on the state of civil rights today, which favors White supremacy over any other consideration.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5036-3003-1

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Stanford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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