PositiveNPR... engaging ... Drayton writes her story, both extraordinary and representative, from Trinidad and Tobago ... In her homeland, Drayton can finally celebrate being free from American racism. Still, despite everything she has experienced, and while noting that \'abusers seldom change,\' Drayton retains hope that America will eventually live up to its promise. Only time will tell.
RaveNPRDespite this horrific miscarriage of justice, Salaam\'s compelling memoir is one of astounding warmth ... His tragic circumstances notwithstanding, Salaam frequently writes of the many things he had to be grateful for ... This book should be read by anyone who wants to hear the story of the Exonerated Five directly from one of its members. Just as Ava Duvernay\'s renowned series about their story, When They See Us, serves as a powerful counter to the more than 400 articles written vilifying the teens in 1989, so does this book continue to illuminate just how wrong the American justice system can go. Salaam notes that the media \'screamed about our guilt and whispered about our innocence.\' The better we know this story and stories like it, the better able we\'ll be to prevent them from recurring.
Reuben Jonathan Miller
RaveNPRMiller writes in prose that is at once powerful and engaging — and combines an abundance of data with the lived experiences of the people the numbers represent. A sociologist, criminologist, social worker, and former chaplain at Chicago\'s Cook County Jail, his insights are partly drawn from having spent 15 years interviewing nearly 250 people caught up in the prison industrial complex. This work included a research project during which he spent three years engaging with 60 men and 30 women after their release from incarceration in Michigan. Miller can also claim far more experiential expertise, because he was \'born black and poor in the age of mass incarceration\' and, like every Black person he knows, \'was stopped by the police a number of times.\' He is a scientist armed with statistical information, and he is the son and brother of incarcerated men ... Halfway Home shines a light on a wide range of absurdities baked into an inherently unjust system. Even though the book\'s primary focus is on life after incarceration, Miller makes clear that the problems with the criminal justice system are grounded in history. He tackles everything from 15th-century racial slavery to Bacon\'s Rebellion and the invention of whiteness to gentrification and the dramatically reduced life expectancy that results from incarceration.
RaveNPRLike the man at its center, We\'re Better Than This: My Fight for the Future of Our Democracy is impressive on multiple levels ... It is a compelling memoir, highlighting some of the formative experiences that shaped Elijah Cummings, a son of sharecroppers who would go on to become one of the most influential members of Congress. It is an urgent call to action, imploring us to defend our democracy as it is assailed by threats internal and external. And, perhaps above all, it is a poignant reminder of just how much the nation lost with his death ... Cummings provides an insider\'s view on his committee\'s efforts to do its job of both oversight and reform — a task made more difficult by endless obstruction from the administration and GOP. He shares his perspective on an array of hearings that captured the national spotlight ... Not all of Cummings\' political life took place in the halls of Congress, however, and he writes movingly about Baltimore ... Such warmth is unsurprising in a book replete with examples of the Congressman\'s remarkable empathy ... To read this book is to join the ranks of his admirers. His lasting imprint is clear in the words of his widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who writes the book\'s final chapter. It is apparent in the selected eulogy excerpts that follow from, among others, the congressman\'s two adult daughters, his brother, his pastor, and Presidents Obama and Clinton ... In this narrative, his final gift to the nation, Cummings reminds us that \'we are not powerless.\' He insists that \'this is a fight for the soul of our democracy,\' and it is a fight that we can win because, in the end, we are, indeed, better than this. It\'s now up to us to prove him right.
PositiveNPRIntimations is the third and slimmest of her essay collections, at 100 pages, but its psychic heft is substantial ... In six essays that feel as intimate as a long walk with an old friend, Smith takes on some of the most pressing issues of our time, including police brutality and economic injustice. The book is grounded in inquiry far more often than in certainty ... If Intimations opens with an inquiry into the nature of the new plague upon us, it ends with a searing indictment of the plague that has haunted this land since colonization ... Smith has taken a mirror and reflected us back to ourselves during the earliest moments of this crisis. It is up to us to change if we don\'t like what we see.
RaveNPRIf you\'re someone who claims the mantel of feminism, who believes in the innate equality of all genders, who thinks that solidarity among communities of women is a core component of the world you want to live in, I strongly encourage you to read Mikki Kendall\'s debut essay collection ... In prose that is clean, crisp, and cutting, Kendall reveals how feminism has both failed to take into account populations too often excluded from the banner of feminism and failed to consider the breadth of issues affecting the daily lives of millions of women ... Those already familiar with Kendall as a leader in Black feminist thought won\'t be surprised that Hood Feminism is grounded in intersectionality ... Throughout, Kendall thoughtfully and deliberately takes mainstream feminism to task for failing to take on the fight of Black maternal mortality, for an overdependence on carceral solutions ... If Hood Feminism is a searing indictment of mainstream feminism, it is also an invitation. For every case in which Kendall highlights problematic practices, she offers guidance for how we can all do better.
RaveNPRRather than focusing on a central theme or two of her own life, the author of eight novels, two children\'s books, and multiple short stories and essays is far more generous. Yes, In the Country of Women is her story — but it is also a chronicle honoring the strength and resilience of six generations of women ... overflows with love ... The warmth from these gatherings almost lifts off the page and invites the reader to pull up a chair ... While Straight reflects on far more than her own upbringing and experiences growing up, she brings her trademark lyricism and a significant dose of humility to those segments of the book.
Ibram X. Kendi
RaveNPR...an essential instruction manual ... [Kendi\'s] transparency serves as an invitation to all of us to accept and grow from our racist behavior. It is one of many components that makes How to Be an Antiracist so accessible ... I found myself resisting Kendi\'s perspective on more than one occasion. Yet in every case, either his unassailable reasoning, helpful historical context, illuminating data, or some combination of the above won me over ... How to Be an Antiracist gives us a clear and compelling way to approach, as Kendi puts it in his introduction, \'the basic struggle we\'re all in, the struggle to be fully human and to see that others are fully human.\'
Mitchell S. Jackson
RaveNPR\"The biggest challenge in describing Mitchell S. Jackson\'s Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family is whether to be appropriately effusive and risk seeming like I\'m in his pay — or to be more tempered and risk underselling the brilliance of this memoir in essays ... One of the book\'s many treasures is Jackson\'s attentiveness to providing historical context for the forces shaping his family members and the place they call home. These forays into history are as wide-ranging as they are engaging ... Jackson\'s searing intelligence is on full display throughout the work, but it is particularly notable when he takes on the problems of gentrification, white supremacy and corporations that gain their wealth off the bodies of the poor. Equally striking is the author\'s unflinching commitment to turn his critical eye inward ... From searching for a kidnapped daughter to a repeatedly delayed prison release to facing eviction as a teenager, these pieces are as moving as they are powerful.\
PositiveNPR\"In short, you can expect virtually every entry in the collection, whether it was written in the 1970s or in this century, to feel strikingly relevant today ... Of course, to highlight every notable observation or intriguing thesis would be to write an entire, if smaller, book itself. There are few pages that don\'t contain sentences that invite repeated reading, because of their stimulating content, and often because of Morrison\'s trademark lyricism. Is it a collection worth reading? Undoubtedly ... If there are complaints to be made, they are few. For my part, I would have loved the inclusion of \'Making America White Again,\' an essay that appeared in The New Yorker after the 2016 presidential election. I could also imagine that, for some, recurring refrains could have been culled from the collection. (Others, like me, will be less concerned about repetition and will simply appreciate the opportunity to identify trends and preoccupations in Morrison\'s work.)\