The FBI’s most wanted woman, a former Black Panther who survived it all – Book review

Have you caught the dramatisation of Assata Shakur’s autobiography on Radio 4 this week? In a coincidence of timing the book has also made it to the top of Jo Manby’s review pile!

Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur. First published in the UK by Zed Books Ltd, London (1988). This edition Lawrence Hill Books (an imprint of Chicago Review Press, Incorporated): Chicago, Illinois, 2014

Assata Shakur is the FBI’s most wanted woman. Since 1979 has lived in Cuba as a fugitive after being granted asylum there following her escape from prison. She is also a founding member of the Black Liberation Army and godmother of Tupac Shakur. This autobiography tells the story of the circumstances that brought her to her present day situation.

the picture shows a book on a table. The book cover has a young black woman's face in profile, with a red target on her face. The title is Assata: An Autobiography Continue reading

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Pages to light the dark paths to freedom of ‘a thousand Maria’s’ – Book review

Jo Manby

A Different Kind of Daughter – The Girl who Hid from the Taliban in Plain Sight
by Maria Toorpakai with Katharine Holstein. First published in the UK by Bluebird (2016). This edition Bluebird (an imprint of Pan Macmillan): London, 2017

Maria Toorpakai is Pakistan’s number one female squash player, and is a professional player now living in Canada. This autobiography follows her journey.

image show the book cover, showing a girl holding a scraf blowing in the wind, silhouetted against a sunsetIn her prologue, Maria says ‘I needed to be outside, under the open sky and running free.’ However, born and brought up in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), specifically Waziristan, in Pakistan, this kind of behaviour was forbidden by tribal law. Even more punitive and suffocating were the edicts of the Taliban, which began to invade people’s lives in this conflicted area and beyond during Maria’s childhood and teens.

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Book Review: Streetsmart Schoolsmart

This review is adapted from an original piece published in the Centre’s journal Ethnicity and Race in a Changing World.

Book review: Streetsmart Schoolsmart: Urban Poverty and the Education of Adolescent Boys by Gilberto Q. Conchas & James Diego Vigil (Teachers College Press, Columbia University: New York and London 2012)

Review by Jo Manby

This is one of the books you find on the shelves of AIU Centre that starts out as an academic study but offers up so much more in the reading of it – a real insight into the potential for social change within the American education system and into the real life issues that affect young people there.

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Book Review: Moving in the Shadows

This review is adapted from an original piece published in the Centre’s journal Ethnicity and Race in a Changing World.

Book review: Moving in the Shadows: Violence in the Lives of Minority Women and Children, edited by Yasmin Rehman, Liz Kelly and Hannana Siddiqui (Ashgate: Farnham, Surrey & Burlington, Vermont 2013)

Review by Jo Manby

Yasmin Rehman, a doctoral candidate at the School of Oriental and African Studies specialising in polygyny and English law; Liz Kelly, Professor of Sexualised Violence at London Metropolitan University and Director of the Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit (CWASU), and Hannana Siddiqui, who has worked at Southall Black Sisters for 25 years, bring together here contributions from a range of academics, activists and practitioners, examining for the first time in one volume violence against women and children within UK minority communities.

The book is divided into three parts:

  • Perspectives
  • Forms and Contexts of Violence
  • Interventions and Responses

It seeks to ‘explore both commonalities and differences in the lives of minority women – in the forms of violence they experience, their meanings and consequences’ (p.9). Continue reading

Fanteland and the Coastal Coalition

To mark International Slavery Day (23rd August), Jo Manby reviews:

The Fante and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, by Rebecca Shumway (University of Rochester Press: Rochester, NY & Woodbridge, Suffolk 2011) (Reprinted 2014)

The Fante and the Transatlantic Slave Trade diverges from previous accounts of the relationship between Fante political history and the Atlantic slave trade, which have tended to focus on and to amalgamate Akan ancestry; the period of the gold trade (fifteenth to seventeenth century); or the era of British colonial rule, within the context of Ghana’s Gold Coast.

Instead, the focus here is on the development of ‘Fanteland’, a location of specific language and culture, the eighteenth-century political unification of Ghana’s coastal people, and the creation of a coalition government, which Shumway refers to as the Coastal Coalition.
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Book Review: Fire in the Ashes

This review is adapted from an original piece published in the Centre’s journal Ethnicity and Race in a Changing World.

Book review: Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America by Jonathan Kozol (Crown Publishers: New York 2012)

Review by Jo Manby

This book is evidence of the kind of enduring, personal relationship that an ethnographer or documentarist can build up within a community if they invest their time and open their hearts to those around them.

Jonathan Kozol has been working with children in inner-city schools in the United States for almost fifty years. Over several years, he has been in conversation with a group of children from one of its poorest urban neighbourhoods. He begins his story – the story of these children – with a picture of New York City’s poor and homeless people on Christmas Eve 1985, thousands of them ‘packed into decrepit, drug-infested shelters, most of which were old hotels situated in the middle of Manhattan’ (p.3). Continue reading

Voices of the Black Panthers Book Reviews #1

Book Review: My People are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain by Aaron Dixon (Haymarket Books: Chicago 2012)

Review by Jo Manby

Despite the presence of a Black president in the White House, America persists in incarcerating unprecedented numbers of Black and ethnic minority males. The Sentencing Project states that ‘for Black males in their thirties, 1 in every 10 is in prison or jail on any given day’. This autobiographical work, My People are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain reminds us of the issues the Black Panther Party (BPP) stood for, most of which, including this and other racial injustices, remain unresolved today. Aaron Dixon gives us a first-hand account of the BPP’s history.

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Book Review: Black Power TV

This review is adapted from an original piece published in the Centre’s journal Ethnicity and Race in a Changing World.

Book review: Black Power TV by Devorah Heitner (Duke University Press: Durham & London 2013)

Review by Jo Manby

A compelling and detailed chronicle of the way that a range of Black public affairs programmes arose within the history of American television during the period of the Black Power movement, this book examines four television shows in particular, both directly and indirectly funded by the (White) Ford Foundation, among other sources, and critical in allowing ‘the imagining of a Black nation and a distinctly African American consciousness’ (p.14).

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Book Review: Africa Speaks, America Answers

Review by Jo Manby, adapted from an original piece published in the Centre’s journal Ethnicity and Race in a Changing World.

Book review: Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times by Robin D. G. Kelly (Harvard University Press: Cambridge, Mass. and London, England 2012)

This four-part volume, hailed as a ‘collective biography’ and written by the author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original, vividly evokes the network of calls and responses across continents that linked modern jazz and Africa at a time of burgeoning revolutionary freedom – the 1950s and 60s.

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Book Review: Darcus Howe: A Political Biography

This review is adapted from an original piece published in the Centre’s journal Ethnicity and Race in a Changing World.

Book review: Darcus Howe: A Political Biography by Robin Bunce and Paul Field (Bloomsbury: London & New York, 2014)

Review by Jo Manby

A lively and incisive biography, dedicated to the memory of CLR James, Darcus Howe’s mentor and great uncle, whose ‘youthful rebellion was symbolized by his skipping his duties to illicitly play cricket’ (p.12), this volume throws into brilliant relief Howe’s importance in the history of radical politics and the struggle for racial justice.

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