Unequal A story of America

Michael Eric Dyson

Book - 2022

"Interconnected stories present a picture of racial inequality in America, showing systemic discrimination in all areas of society and showing the unbroken line of Black resistance to this inequality"--

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Instructional and educational works
New York : Little, Brown and Company 2022.
Main Author
Michael Eric Dyson (author)
Other Authors
Marc Favreau, 1968- (author)
First edition
Physical Description
xiii, 348 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Ages 12 & up
Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • Prologue: A Note to Readers
  • 1. Mary Church Terrell Fights Back Against Segregation
  • 2. Ida B. Wells Exposes America's Lynching Epidemic
  • 3. Buck Franklin Bears Witness to the Destruction of Black Wall Street
  • 4. Ned Cobb Confronts Racial Inequality at Work
  • 5. Dr. Ossian Sweet Breaks Through the Color Line to Find a Home in Detroit
  • 6. Pauli Murray Discovers the Key to Ending Segregation in Schools
  • 7. Daisy Myers Integrates the White Suburbs
  • 8. Malcolm X Launches a Struggle Against Police Brutality
  • 9. Fannie Lou Hamer Takes Back the Right to Vote
  • 10. James Meredith Integrates the University of Mississippi
  • 11. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Memphis's Sanitation Workers Protest for Equal Pay
  • 12. John Carlos and Tommie Smith Raise a Fist for Black Pride
  • 13. Ruth Batson Uncovers Segregation in Boston
  • 14. Michelle Alexander Confronts the New Jim Crow
  • 15. Catherine Flowers, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, and Barack Obama Expose America's Crisis of Environmental Racism
  • 16. Yusef Salaam Battles Racial Profiling
  • 17. Stacey Abrams Leads the Fight Against Voter Suppression
  • 18. Dr. Susan Moore Calls Out America's Unequal Health Care
  • 19. The Black Lives Matter Movement Opens the Latest Battle for Racial Equality
  • 20. Nikole Hannah-Jones Taps into the Power of History
  • Afterword: The Story of Inequality in America
  • Acknowledgments
  • Source Notes
  • Index
Review by Booklist Review

This book's purpose is to ensure that important events in American history are not forgotten or suppressed--specifically stories about racial inequalities and atrocities leveled against African American individuals and communities. The text revisits 20 pivotal events, recreating what happened in real time, adding social and political context along with explanations of how mainstream accounts often distorted what actually took place. The accounts also include jarring details (in courts, Black and white people swore on segregated bibles; southern postal workers scribbled out honorifics like Mr. and Mrs. on mail intended for African Americans). Events are tied to notable people ranging from Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. to more obscure pioneering advocates, like Ossian Sweet and Yusef Salaam. The book's afterword maintains that these past events foreshadow present-day disinformation campaigns, and stresses that to change the future it's necessary to understand the past. Copious chapter notes and further reading suggestions help document these more rounded versions of American history and will hopefully inspire young audiences to seek transparency and equality in their own futures.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Dyson and Favreau examine significant moments of injustice and inequality throughout U.S. history in this crucial nonfiction volume, which posits that "the first step to changing the world... is to understand what has come before." Blending stories of historic Black activists with those of today's prominent movers and shakers, the creators shed light on the changemakers of America's history and explore how inequality affects every aspect of society, from housing laws to healthcare. The authors "have a hard time imagining that anyone would want to make history illegal in the United States of America," and use each chapter to highlight a historical event not often taught in classrooms, such as Ossian Sweet breaking the housing color line in 1925 Detroit, and James Meredith integrating the University of Mississippi in 1960. The creators also tie each historic moment to a contemporary counterpart, including Stacey Abrams fighting voter disenfranchisement, as well as legislation seeking to replace real-life history with "more patriotic views" in America's curriculum. This searing look at attempts to block students "from learning the truth of inequality in the United States" encourages readers to acknowledge the deep-seated presence of structural racism in America. A must-read and a must-teach. Ages 12--up. Agent: Tanya McKinnon, McKinnon Literary. (May)■

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up--An incisive look at how race has been woven into the fabric of our country since its inception. Spanning from 1865 to 2021, this work profiles 20 Black Americans, including Ida B. Wells and Nikole Hannah-Jones. Other subjects who are not as widely known include 16-year-old Mary Church, who desegregated a train car in Bowling Green, KY, and went on to be one of the first Black women to graduate college, and Michelle Alexander, a lawyer who fought against "the New Jim Crow," the over-policing of Black people during the "War on Drugs" in the 1990s. The authors' goal is to feature the freedom fighters from all walks of life who have been at the center of U.S.'s 150-year struggle for equality and to emphasize that "ordinary" people have pushed back against white supremacy. They make the case that this history cannot be disentangled from the broader American story. Teens can digest the substantial narrative profile by profile, but the work is best read as a whole. This is an excellent, accessible selection for history and political science classes. Thoroughly sourced and richly researched, it can be shelved alongside Stamped and Tracey Baptiste's African Icons. VERDICT Empowering, profound, and necessary, purchase for all collections serving young adults.--Shelley M. Diaz

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

Weaving contemporary actors with heralded legacies, this volume profiles Black Americans who represent the unfinished struggle to envision and realize freedom and equality for all. "The history we learn about in school is a battleground," offer Dyson and Favreau, responding to the contemporary climate of legislation attempting to reshape how U.S. history is taught. This collection represents the work of two notable experts who pull no punches in expressing that these current challenges entail a Whitewashing of history by people who "believe that some knowledge is so dangerous that it should be kept from you at all costs." They present snapshots of post-Reconstruction history cemented by strong, transparent source notes. This reader includes chapters on, among other topics, struggles for housing, education, and economic empowerment and against environmental racism. Patterns emerge that weave together notable forerunners and themes from the past with contemporary campaigns and newsmakers: John Carlos and Tommie Smith with Colin Kaepernick, Fannie Lou Hamer with Stacey Abrams, Malcolm X with Michelle Alexander, and Ida B. Wells with Nikole Hannah Jones. The authors invite youth to see themselves in the unfinished business of making "genuine equality a reality for all Americans." This accessible, riveting collection will inspire readers to claim responsibility for helping to ensure that the U.S. one day lives up to its most ethical professed ideals. Grounded in evidence and optimistic: uplifts the social power of studying Black American freedom fighters. (index) (Nonfiction. 12-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.