on carol anderson

Mini nonfiction reviews of two books about American politics by Carol Anderson: One Person, No Vote and White Rage.

This week I read two nonfiction books written by Carol Anderson, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide and One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy.

The former arose out of a Washington Post article Anderson wrote in response to the protests that erupted in Ferguson, Missouri, after the police killing of Michael Brown; the latter was written after Trump won the 2016 election despite losing the popular vote.

In both books Anderson critiques the media’s representation of African Americans. In White Rage, the author claims that commentators’ focus on the spectacle of “Black rage” during times of social protest distracts from the fact that white hostility toward racial justice rules daily life in America. In One Person, No Vote, she argues that the drop in turnout among Black voters in the 2016 election was due not to apathy, as many in the media claimed, but vicious voter suppression tactics.

White Rage is a comprehensive overview of racial injustice in America, whereas One Person, No Vote is a detailed look at the history of disenfranchisement and voter suppression, from the time of Reconstruction up until the present.

fullsizeoutput_2cb4Released months before the end of the Obama presidency, White Rage charts the history of white backlash to Black social advancement in America. Whether describing Southern efforts to thwart Reconstruction or analyzing national voter suppression campaigns, Carol Anderson details the many ways in which American history has been shaped by white rage, the perpetual outpouring of violence and terror in response to Black achievement and success. The author’s style is engaging and reads easily, and her book is excellent as an introduction to the history of racial injustice in America. Those looking for something more in-depth, though, will be a bit let down.

fullsizeoutput_2c76An accessible introduction to the history of disenfranchisement in America, One Person, No Voteexamines the resurgence of voter suppression across the nation since the 2000 election. Carol Anderson argues that Republicans have responded to their growing unpopularity not by developing more inclusive policies but by systematically depriving people of color, especially Black people, of their right to vote. Chapter by chapter, Anderson details the sly and underhanded ways in which Republicans have gerrymandered districts, closed polling places, purged voter rolls, instituted voter ID laws, and thwarted early voting efforts over the past two decades. All the while, GOP officials have spread the myth of rampant voter fraud, claiming that their undemocratic practices are merely honest attempts to restore “election integrity.” Anderson lucidly conveys how Republicans are seeking to resurrect and nationalize Jim Crow laws; her language is straightforward, her argument well developed and terrifying.

 

7 thoughts on “on carol anderson

  1. I don’t think these books are a good fit for me, as I have a solid background in African American history and literature, but I appreciate that they are accessible to people getting their toes wet.

    I have a book blogger friend who is a human rights lawyer in Pennsylvania who has been writing quite a bit about gerrymandering because it’s an issue in her state. I’ve know what it is for a long time, but not the extent to which people protest it. They just approved something in Michigan (my home state) to combat gerrymandering, so I’m pumped.

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    1. The books did feel a bit general, but I’m glad that they’re widely available for people who are just starting to learn about African American history and racial injustice in the US.

      Ahh, that’s very interesting — would you mind sharing your book blogger friend’s blog? I’d be interested to read more about voter suppression in Penn., given the recent controversy about gerrymandering. I’m also from Michigan (north of Detroit), and pumped that Proposal 2 passed — and by such a wide margin. The state’s suffered a lot under Snyder, but there’s a lot to be hopeful about right now.

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  2. So excited to read both of these Michael, glad you read books about social justice! I have to ask: how do you keep up with your reading and blogging habits? What’s your strategy/secret? Would love to know. (:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope you enjoy both when you have the chance to read them Thomas! Anderson’s great at breaking down complex issues in accessible ways.

      I’d say that my success in reading this year’s been due to having found ways to integrate reading into my everyday schedule. I usually spend 1-2 hours each weeknight reading (e)books, and I also listen to audiobooks whenever I can, whether I’m driving to work, jogging/biking, or doing chores. Being out of college and not having assigned reading also has been huge.

      The blogging kind of just follows from all that—I don’t think I’d be motivated to stick to my reading schedule if I weren’t also writing about everything I’ve read and connecting with other readers, if that makes sense.

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    1. I can understand that. One Person, No Vote ends on a hopeful note, in spite of the disturbing topic, but White Rage is bleak from start to finish. But both are worth checking out sometime!

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