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Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  423 ratings  ·  92 reviews
A New York Times and Washington Post Bestseller Bestselling author, basketball legend and cultural commentator Kareem Abdul-Jabbar explores the heart of issues that affect Americans today.

Since retiring from professional basketball as the NBA's all-time leading scorer, six-time MVP, and Hall of Fame inductee, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has become a lauded observer of culture and
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published August 23rd 2016 by Time
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4.18  · 
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 ·  423 ratings  ·  92 reviews

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Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has a lot of opinions. Opinions about how to treat black folks, women, LGBTQ people, and religious minorities in the US (hint: fairly, respectfully, and Constitutionally would be a good start, in his opinion). He is opposed to oppression and in favor of social justice for all. (He’s also got opinions about children’s sports, college basketball, and the elderly, not just “culture war” hot-button groups.) And he doesn’t want those opinions to be based on garbage, so he spends q ...more
Jul 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Got an ARC through work. I've been pecking my way through this one during my commute -- it's an interesting take on a lot of issues (the chapters on class, race, and feminism were particularly insightful and well-supported with stats that were not your typical political blogger sort of stats). But Abdul-Jabbar's perspective tends to be above the fray -- he definitely has his opinions about the way the world should be, but he's not a polemicist. I kept thinking I would get bored and set this book ...more
Scott Schneider
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is amazing. He was a history major at UCLA and is obviously a very bright and thoughtful guy. This book is engaging and insightful. He is a major voice for sanity. His celebrity assures that maybe others will hear what he has to say. I hope so, because he makes a lot of sense and can express it in a way that others might not be turned off, as that sometimes are by Michael Moore or others. I was very impressed.
Katherine Howsare
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Who knew? Abdul Jabar a brilliant thinker/writer. Much food for thought on the state of American culture in this book. Guessing his impact on America may be on par with Muhamed Ali's when all is said and done.
Dan Salerno
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's book is full of the musings of a senior-type citizen of the US.

His book covers a wide range of topics, including American Politics, Racism, Religion, Gender, Class Struggle, News Media and Seniors. The final chapter is a letter to Generation Z.

Most every chapter offers Kareem's (and co-author Raymond Obstfeld's) refreshingly progressive take along with suggestions to strengthen various streams of social justice.

What I found particularly interesting was the historical resear
Dec 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you want a book on the meat of race in America, particularly race relations between blacks and whites, then I recommend this book. Abdul-Jabbar, not just an NBA great from the Los Angeles Lakers, but also a historian and a columnist for the Washington Post, pulls no punches, and lays things out for everyone to see. It may sometimes make for slightly uncomfortable reading, but my feeling is that Abdul-Jabbar isn't about making people feel comfortable. The book was published before the 2016 Pre ...more
Nov 23, 2017 added it
Hard to rate this book as it is not my usual fare.
My son is an avid basketball fan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is one of his heroes. Not just his finesse as a player nor his popularity as a sports commentator, but also for his stance on social issues. This book is a great way to introduce critical thinking and sociology to an otherwise typical teenage boy.
I think I will pass this onto my dad now as he is about the same age as Mr Abdul-Jabbar, and is interested in both sports and social justice, I
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Insightful and thought-provoking. The book explores many issues so relevant today, including race relations, gender inequality, class-struggle, and the news media. In addition to talking about the issues, he offers solutions both at a government level and also at the individual level, with lots of data and history to back up his assertions.
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Every Human Being Needs To Read This Book! And I may not have if I weren't participating in the Kalamazoo Public Library's Community Reading Program called Reading Together. I look forward to Kareem's other books.
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent excellent book! This should be required reading for, well, everyone.
Ryan Mishap
Dec 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
A collection of cogent essays on a variety of big topics: race, gender, media, aging, and more. Starting from the idea that what makes people from the U.S. a coherent nation is the equal rights declarations of the constitution, he proceeds to document how our society, rulers, and others are failing to live up to so-called American ideals. While often being funny, he also lays out a series of suggestions to improve the situations at the end of each essay--every writer should do that if they are g ...more
Daniel Cornwall
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A sensible and inspiring book that shows you can love America with a critical eye. From race, to gender, to class, to aging and more Mr. Abdul-Jabbar offers clear analysis and sensible sounding solutions. Through it all, he comes across as having great faith in the ideals of the United States to fix what is wrong with our country.

It's such a good book that I bought the Kindle edition after reading my library's copy.
Erin Austin
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved this book! I definitely love K A-J’s writing, and I will continue to read more of his work. My only gripe with this book is that he didn’t cite sources for the plethora of statistics used to validate points.
Scott Lee
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Kareem and I would definitely have to debate some of the specifics of his various proposals here, but at least he's thinking clearly, articulating real plans for addressing real problems, and--above all--sounding a rational, reason argument and inviting rational, logical debate. I wish we had more prominent cultural/political critics doing the same. Perhaps if we did perhaps the wing nuts could stop screaming at each other and there would be some room to calmly address some real problems.

Hilary Evans
This book is a must read! It was fantastic! I didn't know much about this man before I read the book, but I love his message. I want to read everything he has written.
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book. If you feel frustrated either by the outcome of this election or by your lack of choice in this election, you should read this book. He talks about things we can do to improve our communities and be more responsible members of society. Very well written and well sorted out. It may have been the only thing that got me in the car going to work after the election (I listened to the audiobook). Whether you're conservative, liberal or neither, or not politically aware in any sense, I' ...more
Brad McKenna
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poc
This book takes a step back from many contentious issues and looks at them from a different perspective. Right from the start, I knew the book was going to be thought-provoking.

On page 3, he quotes the movie, History Boy:
“We still don’t like to admit the war was even partly our fault ‘cause so many of our people died. And all the mourning’s veiled the truth. It’s not ‘lest we forget’ it’s ‘lest we remember’. You see, that’s what this is all about- the memorials, the cenotaph, the two minutes’ s
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Before you crank up the anti-PC rhetoric, stop and ask yourself how it is a 2015 Vox poll found that 85 percent of Americans surveyed believe in "equality for women", yet America still doesn't have it?"

This is a fascinating book.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar doesn't just focus on race or class, he talks about gender and poverty and education. He talks about how sports shape our culture and what that means for young athletes and pros. Most importantly, he talks about how all of these things are connected.
Jun 29, 2017 rated it liked it
In this book Kareem Abdul Jabbar flexes his extensive knowledge, thoughtfulness, and personal experience on matters of race, religion, gender, income inequality, and other issues. There's a lot I like about this book. His thoughts are well reasoned and articulated and backed up by facts and statistics. Perhaps the greatest strength of this book is that he doesn't merely rant about problems, he diagnoses them and provides thoughtful solutions to them. This solutions wouldn't fix all of America's ...more
tania moon
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I feel as though reading this book has reignited a fire in me as an American citizen. I found myself both hopeful and disappointed going through the analogies and statistics Jabbar presented. The fact of the matter is, we have a national epidemic of people unwilling to compromise their staunch viewpoints for a better understanding of our nation and their role in governance. I want this book to be widely distributed to young people, old people, people of color, conservatives, LBGT, etc. I serious ...more
Katherine Cowley
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Writings on the Wall is this year's Read Along book for my city's library system, and in a few weeks Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be coming to speak.

This book feels incredibly timely--even more so now than when it was published in August. It's a collection of essays on many of the problems facing America today: racism, class inequalities, sexism, agism, etc. The book is well-researched and well-argued, with plenty of references to stats and studies, but it's also written in a very accessible style,
Julie Sherwood
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-adult, owned
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has written a highly readable, entertaining, and informative book on a wide range of social issues, including race, poverty, treatment of women, religion, and sports. His conversational style and pop culture references make this book accessible to all readers. There were lots of nuggets of wisdom, but one of my favorites was that whenever he has a knee-jerk opinion on a topic without knowing much about it, he realizes that it must be a result of hidden biases. He then does th ...more
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The only reason it took me so long to read this is I didn't have my own copy and finally had to give it back to the library, and then when I did get a copy it sat on my shelf for ages.

It's not easy to read.

It is extremely, vitally important to read.

You may not like everything he says, you may not agree with everything he says, but you need to read this book. It ought to be required reading for everyone. I may end up reading it again. There are so many critical pieces of wisdom in this book th
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This year, I’ve been getting more and more into non fiction. Now, some non fiction novels I pick up read like an extremely boring report written by a college student who’s barely passing their English class. But this book?

This book did wonders.

The writing was phenomenal. It was sophisticated, clean, and didn’t drag on. There weren’t too many numbers thrown around. Everything the author said served a purpose.

There was also a lot to learn. I learned a lot about the education system, and how people
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've read a few of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's columns in various magazines, and I've always been struck by what a thoughtful political and cultural thinker he is. Writings on the Wall is no exception, although it is a bit more uneven than what I've read in the past; fortunately, his writings range the gamut from solid liberal thinking to truly perceptive and creative ideas. He is especially strong when he relates his own stories about race, sports, age, and religion, and less strong on gender and LBT ...more
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
Seems to me it's characterized as a collection of essays & I have no quarrel with that these essays are tightly knit & well reasoned. The big guy is a far stretch from a dumb jock; he is intelligent, highly well-read & concerned & this is his view on our more significant shortcomings as a society & what we might do to fix them. I might disagree (mildly) with a few of his proposed solutions but mostly I wish Kareem would take steps to make his views more public. He needs a big ...more
Dec 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Let's preface by saying that I received this book as and ARC from the publisher. I loved this book! It was insightful, well-supported, and thought-provoking. This book is arranged by various timely topics and raises questions about race, religion, gender, media, aging, etc. What I love more than anything is that it really forces you to consider your own position and how you contribute or alleviate social issues. Fantastic read!
Liz De Coster
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, wndb
A somewhat dense, but very readable, collection. There is a flow to the sections, but I think this book could be dipped into/out of as well. Abdul-Jabbar leans heavily on pop culture quotations but is overall fairly deft in integrating anecdotes and personal stories. Some of his proposed "solutions" seem frankly unachievable, and the sports discussion didn't quite fit in with the rest of the book, but overall a thoughtful and straightforward read.
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I didn't know that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a deep thinker and a great writer! He's funny and totally relevant. His book is a collection of essays on topics including American Politics, Racism, Religion, Gender, Class Struggle, News Media and Seniors. The final chapter is a letter to Generation Z. I skimmed some pages, but really enjoyed this book!
Joshua Riddell
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Key takeaways:
- Recognize your own logical fallacies and biases and work to change them.
- Don't accept information at face value; do your own work to fact check
- Be well read to get a variety of opinions, be willing to change your opinion.
- Don't be silent, speak up when you see injustice/racial bias and prejudice
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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, Jr. on April 16, 1947 in New York City, New York, United States) is an American former professional basketball player and current assistant coach. Typically referred to as Lew Alcindor in his younger days, he changed his name when he converted to Islam.