Yes, this one is non-fiction. But this shortish (175 pages) book is making me question some core beliefs I’ve held for decades. And it will be a while before I finish processing all the questions and alternative perspectives Author Jason L. Riley (a journalist, TV commentator, member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, and Black American) has presented about liberals and the unintended consequences of their actions on race relations in the United States. Awarded four stars on Goodreads.
For non-fiction, let me say it’s quite readable. While there ARE quite a few studies referenced, with relevant quotes cited, you won’t feel inundated with too many numbers. Instead, Riley methodically looks at (and casts doubt upon) many of the basic assumptions we have been using for generations to guide public policy.
• Sub-standard public education can be improved with increased funding.
• Affirmative action in college admissions equates with greater employment opportunities and higher graduation rates for Black Americans and makes it easier for them to escape poverty.
• Civil Rights organizations work in the best interests of Black Americans.
• Charter schools and school voucher programs are bad because they shift money away from urban schools.
• Poor performance in schools and on standardized tests by minority students is an outcome of systematic racism.
• Teacher unions work for the best interests of their students.
• Labor unions help protect jobs.
• Increasing the minimum wage benefits poor people.
Quite a far reaching list! And Riley criticizes a broad range of people — from Barack Obama to members of some of the most highly respected civil rights organizations in the country. It’s not that I necessarily agree with all Riley’s arguments, but the evidence he presents is compelling and, at the very least, adds yet another layer of complexity to race issues in this country. As if they weren’t complex enough already!
This is one of the books that is important, should be widely read, and needs to become part of the conversation about how best to tackle racism.
More about Jason Riley.