Wednesday, January 16, 2019

CYBILS SENIOR HIGH NONFICTION: We are Not Yet Equal by Carol Anderson


Carol Anderson's White Rage took the world by storm, landing on the New York Times bestseller list and best book of the year lists from New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Chicago Review of Books. It launched her as an in-demand commentator on contemporary race issues for national print and television media and garnered her an invitation to speak to the Democratic Congressional Caucus. This compelling young adult adaptation brings her ideas to a new audience.

When America achieves milestones of progress toward full and equal black participation in democracy, the systemic response is a consistent racist backlash that rolls back those wins. We Are Not Yet Equal examines five of these moments: The end of the Civil War and Reconstruction was greeted with Jim Crow laws; the promise of new opportunities in the North during the Great Migration was limited when blacks were physically blocked from moving away from the South; the Supreme Court's landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision was met with the shutting down of public schools throughout the South; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 led to laws that disenfranchised millions of African American voters and a War on Drugs that disproportionately targeted blacks; and the election of President Obama led to an outburst of violence including the death of black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri as well as the election of Donald Trump.

This YA adaptation will be written in an approachable narrative style that provides teen readers with additional context to these historic moments, photographs and archival images, and additional back matter and resources for teens.


 We Are not yet Equal was a fascinating and informative read.  Anderson does an amazing job supporting her theme of racial inequality.  Her point is that every time progress has been made in addressing racial inequality, especially in regards to blacks, there has been a massive backlash by the white population (white rage she calls it).  And after reading the book, I have to say that she's convinced me of the truthfulness of that statement.  This YA adaption focuses on five major events that seemed to indicate that progress was winning the day, only to have the backlash lead to major regression.  Anderson focuses on the following events: Reconstruction/Jim Crow laws, the Great Migration, the backlash to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the War on Drugs, and the election of President Obama.  I was aware of some of the circumstances and events mentioned in the book, but some of them were new to me.  It's clear to me after reading this book that the United States hasn't made nearly as much progress to racial equality as we like to think we have.  Anderson makes it clear that there is still much to be done to achieve social and racial justice.

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