This book changed my life. It shook me to the core. It turned everything I believed on its head and the closing so brought home my own privilege that...moreThis book changed my life. It shook me to the core. It turned everything I believed on its head and the closing so brought home my own privilege that it felt like the ground I thought I knew had slid out from under me. To live in a relatively safe and secure place rather than a hell dictated by the whims of others - the impact of history, governments and the unfathomable actions of the people surrounding you... It terrified me. (less)
I decided it was about time to finish Storming Caesars Palace in an effort to have a clean slate for 2011 and began Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony at...moreI decided it was about time to finish Storming Caesars Palace in an effort to have a clean slate for 2011 and began Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony at about the same time. The opening lines of Silko's book bewildered me, and I set it down to read it when in a more meditative mindset:
Their evil is mighty / but it can't stand up to our stories. / So they try to destroy the stories / let the stories be confused or forgotten. / They would like that / They would be happy / Because we would be defenseless then.
On finishing Storming Caesars Palace, the meaning in that passage seems so clear and is something that comes up time and again throughout my research. It is essential to preserve histories and the stories of the voices that a hegemonic culture would sooner gloss over and destroy.
Orleck's book is an essential counterpoint to Reagan's "black welfare mother" driving her Cadillac and getting rich off public funds, now a popular and harmful stereotype in public discourse. It is the story of the women who ran Operation Life, a community group that was deemed the most successful and effective model in its delivery of social and health services to the poor community of Las Vegas.
Thanks to her interviews with the women of Operation Life, Orleck expertly sets the backdrop of what it was like to be an African American in the South in the 50s and 60s. It is both riveting and infuriating to read about what the women and their families were up against from the very beginning. The intersectionality of racism and sexism here is glaring and appalling.
Despite constant setbacks, the women of Operation Life worked for nearly twenty years to develop their community and bring about true reform. I'm so grateful that this story has been preserved - it's essential to understand that poverty is not just about "BOOTSTRAPS" but things such as deeply embedded structural racism and sexism. There is a history and a politics to this kind of thing that needs to be preserved if we are to ever bring about true reform and change.(less)
I've been remiss. I finished this book just before I left for Peru and despite managing to write a review I never posted it. In the interest of full d...moreI've been remiss. I finished this book just before I left for Peru and despite managing to write a review I never posted it. In the interest of full disclosure I received this book from the Good Reads' giveaway program. Regardless, it has landed on my essential reading shelf for a number of reasons.
Maybe you were in a neighborhood where Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) put up posters. Even now, I remember them vividly - charges that they killed puppies. As a jaded teenager, I never paid much attention to them - I figured if they had to use such a sensationalist charge to tug at my emotions the whole deal was probably absurd. Perhaps I was also somewhat offended that they thought they needed such an extreme charge to get me involved.
I like to think that maybe ten years later I'm a little wiser and a little less jaded, but regardless, enter Green is the New Red. I was surprised to find SHAC's story in here, along with a number of other animal rights and environmental activists, specifically those who were a part of ALF and ELF. I also like to think I have a decent awareness of the government's tactics when it comes to social movements - I know they killed Fred Hampton, I know they infiltrate vegan pot lucks with FBI agents, I know they run secret prisons and I know that big money has its tentacles everywhere in politics.
And yet Green is the New Red routinely had me all sorts of shocked, appalled and infuriated. Potter lays out the history of the red scare (I had to stop at this point and let the new information sink in, it just blew my mind.) Another example is something that seems to have currently come on the radar of liberal groups - my inbox is lighting up with emails about ALEC, the group in which corporations pay to be members and then draft legislation that is then presented as legitimate by lawmakers - Potter goes into depth about how ALEC works in the book and I was left feeling infuriated.
There are many, many different threads in this book. Court cases against animal rights activists, a history of the red scare, details about the government infiltration of liberal and leftist groups, corporate influence in government... Despite that, Potter more than manages to make a very convincing argument that Green is indeed the new Red, illustrating that activists that try to change corporate behavior are the new brand of terrorist. Admittedly I probably wouldn't have picked this book up if I felt that it concentrated too heavily on animal rights activists. And despite that being the book's focus, there's a lot to learn here - Potter portrays the larger picture just as successfully as his focus on animal rights and environmental activism. And because of that, EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK!!!!(less)
4.5 - One of the best non-fiction books I've ever read that aims to illuminate something through sociological methods. I lopped off half a star becaus...more4.5 - One of the best non-fiction books I've ever read that aims to illuminate something through sociological methods. I lopped off half a star because much of the first half of the book can feel like one is reading a laundry list of opinions from women with citations as to where you can find their full story in the book. Lots and lots of 'Deena, 18 year old mother of 2 children ages four and six (covered in chapter 4) thinks......' I feel like the book probably could have been organized better in that regard but as you get farther the narrative is a lot less chopped up in that manner and you get larger parts of the stories.
Regardless, it doesn´t invalidate the importance of the opinions and life stories of the women and the incredible set of values and beliefs held by them. I learned A LOT - Edin and Kefalas completely smash the stereotypes about poor teenage and unwed mothers that those of us in the middle and upper class brackets just seem to take for granted despite never even having known or interacted with them. It also completely revealed that my own opinion of 'they just need to know about or be able to afford birth control' and everything will be hunky dory, a-ok, was an utterly ridiculous, uninformed assumption on my part that invalidates much of their life experiences.
This was also the perfect accompaniment to Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx, which I loved, but also felt incredibly frustrated because I didn't understand WHY things I took for granted in terms of the way my life should go didn't seem to be the same for those profiled in the book. Trying to keep in perspective that they led lives so much harder and so much different than mine didn't always help, but Edin and Kefalas illuminate the thought processes.
I hope to give a more in depth review in the future, but my internet time is limited at the moment.(less)