“When Affirmative Action Was White” by Ira Katznelson tells the story of how the progressive programs of the 1930s and 1940s solidified and expanded the American middle class. The implementation of these programs were designed to especially benefit White citizens while excluding Black citizens whenever possible. Coupled with other economic injustices of the past, this unfair distribution of resources and opportunities contributed to the wealth gap that persists to this day. Yet, because the underlying political shenanigans are often unmentioned, it has allowed people in the present to oppose more recent affirmative action programs intended to rectify the situation.
Category: <span>Book Reviews</span>
Reading the synopsis for “killing the black body” by Dorothy E. Roberts, it seemed like the perfect book to discuss intersectionality as it touches on both race and reproductive rights. Racial, gender, and socioeconomic issues are often discussed separately but not nearly enough in combination as they occur in the real world. Here there’s a discussion of how those factors result in a difference in the approach to reproductive rights with regards to Black versus White women, especially within different income levels.
Published in 1970, “The Bluest Eye” was Toni Morrison’s debut novel and earned her a Nobel Prize. A deceptively short book that packs quite a punch, the story follows eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove, a Black girl growing up in Lorain, Ohio shortly after the Great Depression. Growing up in a family plagued by generational dysfunction and a community plagued with self-hate, Pecola comes to believe that having blue eyes will make her beautiful in the eyes of others and solve all of her problems.
“Stamped from the Beginning” by Ibram X. Kendi provides a history of America’s racist ideas. Organized into five sections, the book tells the history of not just Black people in America but also how racist ideologies developed over time. This history is also viewed through the lens of categorizing people, events, and concepts into three positions on a spectrum ranging from racist to anti-racist. Of particular interest are explanations of the nuance of items that fall in the middle.
“Go Tell It on the Mountain” by James Baldwin is a 1953 novel that is based on Baldwin’s life but is not an autobiography. Instead, the story follows a day in the life of John Grimes, a 14-year-old boy growing up in Harlem. The book explores John’s life in the present which includes his relationship with his family and church. But the pasts of the three adults in John’s life, how they intertwined and made them the people they are in the present, are also explored.