Friday, January 20, 2017

Crossing the Thinnest Line by Lauren Leader-Chivée, 2016

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FROM THE VERY FOUNDING OF OUR NATION, diversity has been one of our greatest strengths but also the greatest source of conflict. In less than a generation, America will become "minority-majority," and the world economy, already interconnected, will be even more globalized. The stakes for how we handle this evolution couldn't be higher. Will diversity be a source of growth, prosperity, and progress-or perpetual division and strife?

America has the potential to realize huge gains economically and socially by more fully capitalizing on diversity, but significant challenges remain and it's a problem that all Americans should be focused on solving. Despite tremendous progress, women and minorities still face barriers to accessing the full promise of the American dream. It doesn't have to be this way. Many of the solutions are right in front of us, and many exceptional, committed Americans are doing their part to make a difference.

In the twenty-first century, nations will prosper only insofar as they embrace and celebrate the individuals, organizations, and collective efforts to advance every kind of diversity. Lauren Leader-Chivée believes America must lead the way. In CROSSING THE THINNEST LINE, she explores the state of our diverse union and shares important stories of progress and potential, highlighting those who are crossing dividing lines of race, gender, culture, and political party to build a more united and prosperous nation. Her revelations will transform the discussion and set the agenda for America's progress on these critical issues. A work of originality and ambition, CROSSING THE THINNEST LINE changes our understanding of diversity and offers lessons to change our lives and our country.

(336 pages)

Okay, first, I have to admit that I didn't read this whole thing. About halfway through I got so sick of it that I started skimming. The author claims to be striving for adversity, and she does concede that Republicans are probably people too right near the very end of the book, but most of the 300+ pages consist of her presenting one passionate argument after another for why America should follow every single left-leaning Democrat policy ever.

From the bitter way I say that, you might think that I'm a Republican. I'm not. I think of myself as being in the middle of the road, conservative about some things but liberal about others. I am not inherently opposed to diversity in any way, and in fact I do think we need more diversity in this nation. That's why I chose to review Crossing the Thinnest Line in the first place! I just got annoyed by the author's tone: she spends the entire time talking about how awesome and amazing her beliefs are, and uses the words "Republican" and "conservative" like they're slightly insulting. She interprets every single possible thing that happens to a person of color as being about race (even when they don't seem remotely related to me), and refuses to consider the fact that people who disagree with her are just as entitled to their opinions as she is to hers.

Anyway, I jotted down a few quotes that particularly struck me. Here are the ones that stuck out the most, in no particular order:
  • This might be controversial because of the media, but I had to include it: Freddie Gray. The author says that his death was purely because of race, despite the fact that Baltimore is extremely diverse and several of the policemen charged with his murder were black. As someone who lived in Baltimore for five years (including when all of that happened), I am so sick of the way people turn Freddie Gray's death into something it isn't. Police brutality is an issue here, yes. Racism? I seriously doubt it.
  • She writes "In 2013, when Republicans forced a shutdown of the US government in a standoff over the budget . . . " Right. Because a standoff between two political parties is totally only one of those parties' fault. I don't even remember the details of their conflicts, but I doubt the Democrats were innocent victims.
  • This is probably my favorite: "By some estimates, given the changing demographics of the nation, even a candidate who won 60 percent of the white male vote could not win the presidency without meaningful support from women and minorities. It's a reality that may ensure a democratic president for a generation–unless the Republican Party changes course and returns to the politically sound and morally decent tradition of inclusion that George W. Bush exemplified." Whew! First, it's kind of hilarious to think about how wrong Leader-Chivée is right here (even though Donald Trump becoming president isn't something I normally find very funny). Second, "returns to the . . . morally decent tradition of inclusion" sounds a lot to me like Leader-Chivée is calling current Republicans immoral and indecent. Yeah, very open-minded of her.
Well, great, there goes my resolve to never discuss politics on here. Blast this book for being way more political than I thought it would be! Anyway, I suppose what really grated on my nerves was that in a book all about encouraging diversity, the author constantly just focused on using her platform to push her own political agenda at the expense of all others. We need ethnic and religious diversity, sure. But we also need ideological diversity, we need people who think about the world in different ways. We need to be able to recognize that some people have morals that are different from our own, and to respect that. I don't think Leader-Chivée has much respect for anyone who isn't a flaming Democrat, which is a pity. I hope that her experience near the end of the book meeting George W. Bush (and realizing he isn't as horrible a human being as she'd thought) might help her reach across the aisle and find respect for conservative Americans.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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