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review 2020-07-15 08:15
Identity politics, “lived experiences” and an end to moderation


By 2045, a majority of the US population will be people of color. This will change the electoral makeup and enable people of color to have a transformative political impact.


In Zerlina Maxwell’s, The End of White Politics - How to Heal Our Liberal Divide, the former staffer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign explains this is not a movement, it’s not a theory, it’s a demographic fact. To take advantage of this shift, the Democratic Party has to listen to the people of color and diverse groups, promote them to positions of power within the party, and let them lead the way.


According to Maxwell, when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression, and that applies to all white males including those in the Democratic Party. Maxwell takes aim at the Bernie Bros, calling them “a manifestation of white male privilege”, and the “same as Trump supporters responding to the same perceived loss of privileges.” She claims whitelash increased racial solidarity among white people with the shared perception that they were losing status, rights, and privileges they had traditionally enjoyed was the reason for the Trump win.


She endorses identity-based politics explaining, in reality, it is politics saying there is more than one experience to consider. That means embracing identities other than those that are white, male, and heteronormative and accordingly running political campaigns based on the needs and experiences of those African Americans, Latinx, and the LGBTQ+ communities and women. Though women currently are a majority of the US population, their numbers don’t reflect that in elected officials.


Critical of Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, she suggests he has a “long history of telling the black constituency he can be trusted, while simultaneously authoring and implementing policies that would hurt them.” This includes supporting Bill Clinton’s 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that has resulted in the current crisis of mass incarceration.


Maxwell identifies with The Squad, four young women of color recently elected to Congress saying, “there is no group more representative of how the next generation of leadership will look than The Squad.” She’s a supporter of their outspoken candor on public policy saying that lived experiences make better-informed policymaking. To Maxwell, the impulse of most Democrats to be moderate “feels like a manifestation of the white privilege that has plagued us for so long. Being a moderate is not a virtue. Moderation does not pull us toward progress.”


The book is dense with facts and then some since Maxwell has a tendency to repeat the same arguments in different context. She’s also fond of political jargon and memes, ostensibly to enhance her insider credibility, but which frequently sent me on an internet search to understand.


As an analysis of the current state of America’s political system, The End of White Politics reads like the future, like an awakening, like common sense.


Written with passion and commitment, Zerlina Maxwell presents her argument persuasively and unapologetically, and with enough anecdotes to lift it above the political thesis. She reminds us when she quotes feminist Laura Duca, “At any given moment, you’re either actively fighting for equality, or you’re complicit in the system of oppression that prevents it.”

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review 2014-06-26 02:32
Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

For the past two months I have picked up multiple books that I either lost interest in or just couldn't finish for sheer lack of interest. I've really been in a reading slump this year, but I can happily state that I have crossed We Were Liars off my TBR list. While I'm not as enamored with the story as many other readers, it was the first book in quite some time that actually held my interest so in my mind it's worth reading if you're on the fence.


The story explores many themes ranging from family relationships, race, young love, grief, and greed.  There's something in the book for everyone which is probably why there's a lot of buzz surrounding it.  I also believe a major fault in how the story is constructed is it tries to accomplish way too much and there isn't enough time devoted to allowing the reader to get to know the characters.  This is especially true of the adults in the story, who are portrayed as one-dimensional caricatures.  The three Sinclair daughters (Carrie, Bess, and Penny) are basically the same person and have no distinct personality whatsoever, and the grandfather is an almost laughable representation of old entitled White men in America.  Point is, a little bit more depth and less stereotyping would have gone a long way.


The novel's protagonist, Cady, is likeable but it's evident early on in the story that she's an unreliable narrator and her point of view should be taken with a great deal of skepticism.  I enjoyed her interactions with her cousins and Gat, but the story lacked execution.  I just wish the author had focused on a few problems instead of jumping around to various issues/stereotypes in an effort to keep the reader in the dark so the "twist" in part four of the story had more of a shock factor.  Oh, it should also be mentioned this technique didn't work at all and most readers will probably figure out the book's OMG moment very early on in the story.


We Were Liars wasn't horrible by any means, but I wanted more than what we were given.  The writing was also too choppy for my liking.  Still, it's a decent enough summer read and I think a lot of people will find something to relate to in the book.

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