Thursday, October 29, 2020

Three Audiobook Reviews

I've gotten way behind in my reviews so here's a trio of my most recent audiobook listens. 

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein, narrated by Adam Grupper

Talk about a book right up my alley! Random facts, history, AND legal stuff all wrapped into one. And the facts and history are the kind that make you repeat them to friends and family later because they're just so infuriating. Basically, this book explains the history behind the lower rates of minority home ownership in America and how laws have prevented Black Americans from growing familial wealth in this way. From redlining to government-backed mortgages being only for whites, to white ownership IN PERPETUITY being written into deeds that exist TO THIS DAY, Black people wanting to buy houses have always been thwarted in this country and it's not because they're poor or have bad credit or any other reason. It's because it's enshrined in our laws and our government. This is wrong and horrid and awful and has for decades and centuries worked to keep systemic poverty in place and prevent black and brown Americans from owning property. (It was a little bit dry though.)

Race Against Time by Jerry Mitchell

Jerry moved to Mississippi for his journalism career, having no idea where it would lead. But after watching a preview of the movie Mississippi Burning, a stray comment about the fact that those men were all still alive--and free, lead him down a path in history. Through research he found that yes, the men who killed those three civil rights workers were in fact still around and had not been prosecuted. And sure, it had been decades but he figured that could work to his advantage--people wouldn't be as loyal, wouldn't worry as much about retaliation, and might even see the error of their ways. He tracked down witnesses and records and eventually his dogged determination did lead to arrests and a trial! Several people threatened him along the way but he not only didn't give up, he figured if this worked once, why not again? So he dove back into the archives and started making phone calls again, until he also cracked the cases of the assassination of Medgar Evers, the firebombing of Vernon Dahmer, and the 16th Street Church bombing in Birmingham. At the end of this road, too many witnesses and perpetrators were dying to go on. But it was a valiant effort to bring to task some of the worst racists who committed the most heinous crimes of the twentieth century. I wish more people did similar work.

Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century: Unabridged Selections edited by Alice Wong, narrated by Alejandra Ospina 

So now to change from African-American topics to another minority: people with disabilities. This is a series of short first-person essays written by a wide variety of people from all sorts of backgrounds and histories, but who all share disabilities. Not all the disabilities are visible, some people have multiple disabilities, and some are disabled and also belong to other marginalized groups. But all of them have experienced their disability causing them to disappear in society. They want their issues, and their personhood, stood front and center, where they can no longer be ignored, overlooked, othered, and shunted aside. Unlike most other classifications of minority, "disabled" is a classification that might affect all of us one day if we live long enough. And it can hit some of us while young, and some temporarily. It's also the largest minority group, which is interesting as it seems to be the one fewest people have awareness of. These stories were eye-opening, harrowing, heartbreaking, and empowering. Not for the faint of heart and yet, should be required reading for all Americans.

Each of these I listened to as a downloadable eaudiobook from Libby/Overdrive via my local library. 

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