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30 review for All Eyes are Upon Us: Race and Politics from Boston to Brooklyn

  1. 5 out of 5

    victor harris

    While the South has traditionally been identified as the base of the most virulent racism, Sokol shows that the North was equally guilty of oppressive practices. While New England and the rest of the North certainly had progressive leanings on many fronts, particularly in bringing elected minority officials into the limelight, it lagged behind in addressing segregation in schools and housing. Massachusetts was one of the bellwether states that could be hailed for its enlightened attitudes in s While the South has traditionally been identified as the base of the most virulent racism, Sokol shows that the North was equally guilty of oppressive practices. While New England and the rest of the North certainly had progressive leanings on many fronts, particularly in bringing elected minority officials into the limelight, it lagged behind in addressing segregation in schools and housing. Massachusetts was one of the bellwether states that could be hailed for its enlightened attitudes in some respects (election of minority officials and penetration of the white power structure in other positions) while it was beset with bitter struggles in dealing with segregation in schools. Springfield was a hotbed of legal quarrels over defining school district lines, and Boston reeled from the ferocious and often violent response to forced busing. New York City was also a center of turbulence. Regarded as " the Liberal capital of America", like Massachusetts it reflected both the best and worst of the sentiments and behaviors on the racial spectrum. And again, it would elect minority candidates locally and nationally but was constantly embroiled in violent eruptions, mostly related to incidents of police brutality. It also required some delicate balancing acts, particularly for black politicians who didn't want race as a central issue but couldn't neglect the significant numbers of minority voters. Shirley Chisolm in Brooklyn was one such candidate who had to navigate the treacherous waters of a multi-ethnic and multi-racial electorate. In essence, as Sokol ably shows, the South in the 50s-70s may have clung to preserving the last vestiges of de jure segregation, the North certainly was a bastion of de facto segregation. Connecticut Senator Abraham Ribicoff would create a furor when he denounced the North for its attitudes and practices and the battle over race would intensify in the media and halls of Congress. The only lapse in an otherwise outstanding narrative occurred when dealing with the Shirley Chisolm campaign in Brooklyn. I thought that part could have been condensed some as it really got into the minutiae of local political alliances and voting districts. Quite alien material unless one came from that location. The coverage of Jackie Robinson was outstanding as it showed how he may have been ultimately accepted on the playing field but whites didn't want him and his family as neighbors. The Ed Brooke success in Massachusetts was also a compelling story. Brooke was the first African-American elected to the Senate and from 1966-78 would be the only one elected to multiple terms. As a side quirk, Brooke was a moderate Republican in a heavily Democratic state, enhancing his achievement. Anyone seeking to get a better handle on race relations in the past, and how we have evolved to our modern political and racially charged climate will certainly appreciate this work as it deals with both the big picture and the nuances of how the North has struggled to come to terms with its contradictions on race.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    I had mixed feelings on Dr. Sokol’s first book, There Goes My Everything, but overall thought he displayed a tremendous amount of potential. I’ve been keeping an eye out for his next book ever since. All Eyes are Upon Us again shows Dr. Sokol’s potential but again fails to fully deliver. I’d even go as far as to say that All Eyes are Upon Us is a step back from There Goes My Everything. Part of what impressed me about There Goes My Everything is how deftly Dr. Sokol dove into the intricacies of hi I had mixed feelings on Dr. Sokol’s first book, There Goes My Everything, but overall thought he displayed a tremendous amount of potential. I’ve been keeping an eye out for his next book ever since. All Eyes are Upon Us again shows Dr. Sokol’s potential but again fails to fully deliver. I’d even go as far as to say that All Eyes are Upon Us is a step back from There Goes My Everything. Part of what impressed me about There Goes My Everything is how deftly Dr. Sokol dove into the intricacies of his subject matter. He presented a nuanced, complex portrait of a difficult place and time in history while never once falling back onto an apologist explanation. Despite attempts, All Eyes are Upon Us lacks that nuanced portrait. Part of that is due to the focus on a handful of individuals (predominately politicians) and politics and education, which are only part of the puzzle. By omitting more direct analyses of discrimination in jobs and housing – and by taking a more conservative approach in his analysis of race and politics – the book lacks the ambition of There Goes My Everything. Look, I like politics. I also like law. It’s therefore never a good thing when even I’m reading a book and thinking ‘geez, enough already with the minutia of these elections.’ I’m not convinced the book had to be longer: I think it needed to go into less detail in some areas and expand in others. Some of the word choice was at times more opinionated than needed, doubly so for a serious work of history. This is a nice addition to civil rights history. Some of the chapters are chilling, given recent events in modern America. And I’ll keep looking out for Dr. Sokol’s books. Recommended.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David Lucander

    This is a very well written and researched book. Main point: Mississippi deservedly gets a bad reputation for racism, but the North had a long way to go, too. I learned a lot about Chisholm and Brooke, two iconic politicians who I heard about all the time but didn't really know anything about. I especially liked the chapter on the "Springfield Plan" because I found mention of it in the archives years ago and wanted to pursue it but never had the time - so thanks to the author for telling a much This is a very well written and researched book. Main point: Mississippi deservedly gets a bad reputation for racism, but the North had a long way to go, too. I learned a lot about Chisholm and Brooke, two iconic politicians who I heard about all the time but didn't really know anything about. I especially liked the chapter on the "Springfield Plan" because I found mention of it in the archives years ago and wanted to pursue it but never had the time - so thanks to the author for telling a much needed story about a time when education served the cause of pluralism. The chapter on Brooklyn during the era that Jackie Robinson broke MLB's color barrier is excellent - it weaves together a lot of other research into a readable narrative of state law, city politics, cultural identity, and of course, baseball.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karen Ashmore

    When I was in college, I remember being amazed at the white Bostonians who were protesting the integration of their schools. As a southerner, we had done that several years ago and I thought every public school in America had been integrated by then. But apparently not. This book traces several events that took place in the North from Jackie Robinson’s entry into pro baseball to school integration to black elected officials to white mobs killing black males in Crown Heights, Bensonhurst and othe When I was in college, I remember being amazed at the white Bostonians who were protesting the integration of their schools. As a southerner, we had done that several years ago and I thought every public school in America had been integrated by then. But apparently not. This book traces several events that took place in the North from Jackie Robinson’s entry into pro baseball to school integration to black elected officials to white mobs killing black males in Crown Heights, Bensonhurst and other predominantly white neighborhoods in New York. Northerners claimed to be more liberal but because the North is so segregated, it did not always translate into equal rights in housing, jobs and schools. Sokol posits the North as being less tolerant than they think they are.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Shachter

    This book provides brilliant insight about the struggle for Integration in the north. It exposes the myth of Northern acceptance and looks at the champions and opponents of integration and busing. Biographical stories of Shirley Chism's rise in Bed Sty Brooklyn and Ed Brookes ascension to US Senate really bring Boston, NY and other NE cities in the last few decades of the 20th century alive. Loved this book. This book provides brilliant insight about the struggle for Integration in the north. It exposes the myth of Northern acceptance and looks at the champions and opponents of integration and busing. Biographical stories of Shirley Chism's rise in Bed Sty Brooklyn and Ed Brookes ascension to US Senate really bring Boston, NY and other NE cities in the last few decades of the 20th century alive. Loved this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    Eye opening! Absorbing.. felt like I was right there.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Leight

    It's a compelling title, but ultimately not a very well-written volume. This book is oddly disjointed; Sokol chooses a series of vignettes in various northern cities to write about, with almost no links between them. Some were frankly rather uninteresting (e.g., Shirley Chisholm.) Some were well-known but interesting (a history of Edward Brooke). The best chapters chronicled little-known episodes that were fascinating: the Springfield project, local politics in Hartford. Nonetheless, though I en It's a compelling title, but ultimately not a very well-written volume. This book is oddly disjointed; Sokol chooses a series of vignettes in various northern cities to write about, with almost no links between them. Some were frankly rather uninteresting (e.g., Shirley Chisholm.) Some were well-known but interesting (a history of Edward Brooke). The best chapters chronicled little-known episodes that were fascinating: the Springfield project, local politics in Hartford. Nonetheless, though I enjoyed specific parts of the book, I was never particularly eager to read on or curious about what would come next.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bill S.

    A look at the north’s struggle with racism as the effects of black migration changed the social fabric and challenged the region’s assumed moral high ground on civil rights matters. The attempt was worthy and the people the author chose to profile were the right ones. But I also think he tried to stuff too many square pegs into round holes in an attempt to fit some predetermined conclusions.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Blake Maddux

    Here is my interview with the author of the book: http://artsfuse.org/120494/fuse-book-... Here is my interview with the author of the book: http://artsfuse.org/120494/fuse-book-...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Pat Banusewicz

    Racism and politics in the North. Well researched.

  11. 4 out of 5

    arieswym

    Note - focus on ch. 10 about Deval & Barack

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alexis

    Racism in the North is different from racism in the South. The North lacks, and lacked, the most visible signs of racism as known in the South: lynchings, Jim Crow, and the visible presence of the Klan (though it did exist up north). But, as Sokol shows us, that does not mean the North lacks racism. This is not a complete history of racism in the North. Instead Sokol focuses on select periods and incidents in the postwar period, focusing on Boston, New York City, and Connecticut, as representati Racism in the North is different from racism in the South. The North lacks, and lacked, the most visible signs of racism as known in the South: lynchings, Jim Crow, and the visible presence of the Klan (though it did exist up north). But, as Sokol shows us, that does not mean the North lacks racism. This is not a complete history of racism in the North. Instead Sokol focuses on select periods and incidents in the postwar period, focusing on Boston, New York City, and Connecticut, as representative examples of his thesis. In the South, racism is overt. In the North, it is covert. Northerners are taught to revere a mystique of anti-racism: that the North is different. The sin in the North is to declare one's racism, not to live it. In order to resolve this paradox, Northern whites have to tell themselves other myths: that school segregation is merely a result of living in different neighborhoods, and that living in different neighborhoods is either by choice or because black families can't afford to buy in white ones. Massachusetts sees itself as the cradle of liberty and home of the abolitionist movement. In New York City, the myth of the melting pot is employed to obscure fault lines. Thus, Jackie Robinson's tenure with the Dodgers is hailed as evidence of New York's progressivism and Brooklyn's diversity--and it is. But it's also true that Jackie and his family were unable to buy a house in the suburbs, and after they were finally able to do so (because they went to the newspapers) their children were treated miserably in their white schools. Black politicians (Ed Brooke and Shirley Chisholm are featured) get elected through a delicate dance around their race. On the one hand, many white voters wanted to laud their progressivism by voting for a black candidate. On the other, the candidates face backlash for emphasizing it--implying that they are not being voted for on the basis of their qualifications, but their race. This bind of "voting for the most qualified candidate" continues for minority candidates today. As a Republican seeking statewide election in a predominantly white state, Brooke emphasized how his election would really be a color blind choice. As a Democrat in a majority-minority district with substantial minorities of both white and Puerto Rican voters, Chisholm emphasized outreach to all groups, her independence, and a canny ability to play New York's political machines. A later section of the book deals with the perils of black politicians in the 1980s at a time when crime was on the rise and cities were being starved by Reagan. Dinkins' initial promise was deflated by racial violence he was unable to calm. As time progressed, tensions that had not been spoken about began to bubble to the surface and explode--and chief among them was school busing. The North resisted it. When segregationist senator John C. Stennis called the North out on its hypocrisy, Connecticut Sen. Abraham Ribicoff took on his challenge--and acknowledged it. But while many white Southerners were only interested in Northern hypocrisy as a deflection, Ribicoff meant it, and ultimately backed major plans to reverse segregation. They landed on deaf ears. In Boston, too, fierce opposition arose to the idea of busing. The Northeast would accept equality under the law; it would accept equality at the ballot box; it would not accept change in day to day life. Because the book is selective, there's much more material that could be mined--for example, federal housing policy was instrumental in white flight, and racial steering as well as discrimination ensured that the suburbs would remain as segregated as the cities. Supreme Court decisions restricting desegregation to within district lines would preserve suburban segregation, where districts were small and black (and later Latino) residents continued to be steered away from white suburbs. However, Sokol does a good job of using his cases as illustrative. As well as Boston and New York City, Springfield and Hartford are studied. As a native Long Islander, I recognized the racism I had grown up with. It's vital for those of us who grew up and continue to live in the Northeast to understand our own history with racism and its unique flavor.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    It's an examination of how the Northeast isn't that much different from the South in terms of race relations. In General, Northerners perceive themselves as more progressive and race tolerant than Southerners. However, racism in the Northeast is prevalent but thinly veiled, whereas it's more "in your face" down South. It's an interesting, and thought provoking book. Recommend; perhaps it will inspire self-reflection into why we vote for or against candidates/policies in any election. It's an examination of how the Northeast isn't that much different from the South in terms of race relations. In General, Northerners perceive themselves as more progressive and race tolerant than Southerners. However, racism in the Northeast is prevalent but thinly veiled, whereas it's more "in your face" down South. It's an interesting, and thought provoking book. Recommend; perhaps it will inspire self-reflection into why we vote for or against candidates/policies in any election.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gay Ann

    Issues surrounding housing and how it affects us all.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jolie McClure

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cathleen Sweeney

  18. 5 out of 5

    Johnisha

  19. 5 out of 5

    Malignant Rojas

  20. 4 out of 5

    Susan Kinghorn

  21. 5 out of 5

    cathrine crowe

  22. 5 out of 5

    Robert Johnson

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cindy O'Hare Owens

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sasha Scarr Graham

  26. 5 out of 5

    Catie Eller

  27. 4 out of 5

    Natasha Porter

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hilary Evans

  29. 5 out of 5

    James Nelson

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Disneyq

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