Tag Archives: sociology

“Genius” Grant Winner Matthew Desmond on Eviction, Poverty and Profit in the American City

9780553447439By Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Crown, March 2016)

Request an advanced reader’s copy: email rhacademic@penguinrandomhouse.com with your name, college and course information.

I began this project because I wanted to write a different kind of book about poverty in America. Instead of focusing exclusively on poor people or poor places, I began searching for a process that involved poor and well-off people alike. Eviction—the forced removal of families from their homes—was such a process. Little did I know, at the outset, how immense this problem was, or how devastating its consequences. Continue reading

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Author Ron Suskind reflects on A Hope in the Unseen: a common reading classic, now more relevant than ever

9780767901260By Ron Suskind, author of A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League (Broadway Books, 1999)

Two decades ago, I went to the toughest school  I could find in America. It happened to be in my hometown, Washington, DC, where I was the national affairs reporter for the Wall Street Journal. Bill Clinton was President, an economic boom was beginning, and despite the OJ Simpson verdict and Rodney King’s plea to “just get along,” there was reasoned  optimism that progress in race relations was underway, slow but steady, with a growing African-American middle class and opportunities borne of affirmative action. I found a young man, a big dreamer with a dad in jail and a struggling mom, and followed him, his family, and an ensemble of characters, several of them white and privileged, for four years. The yield-a Pulitzer  Prize­ winning series and then best-selling book, A Hope in the Unseen-were works that I hoped would last, and they did. Like The Other Wes Moore or Bryan Stevenson‘s Just Mercy, Hope was a favorite of the common reading experience and went on to sell a half-million copies. Continue reading

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Each Of Us Is More Than The Worst Thing We’ve Ever Done: Just Mercy With Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson -- credit Nina SubinBy Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (Spiegel & Grau, October 2014)

My grandmother was the daughter of people who were enslaved in Caroline County, Virginia. She was born in the 1880s, her parents in the 1840s, and the legacy of slavery very much shaped her and the things she would say to me. When I visited my grandmother, she would hug me so tightly I could barely breathe. After a little while, she would ask me, “Bryan, do you still feel me hugging you?” If I said yes, she’d let me be; if I said no, she would assault me again. I said no a lot because it made me happy to be wrapped in her formidable arms. She never tired of pulling me to her. “You can’t understand most of the important things from a distance, Bryan. You have to get close,” she told me all the time. Continue reading

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How College Habits Changed My Life

College saved my life. Or, more accurately, the good and bad habits I learned in college saved my life.

And since then, nothing has been the same.

In 1993, I left Albuquerque, New Mexico, and a high school with a 50 percent drop out rate, for New Haven, Connecticut, and Yale. Here is what I did not know at the time: that sheets should be washed more than once a semester; that if you stand in the rain for 40 minutes, a shower afterward might be a wise idea; that when a professor says you need to read the book, you actually need to read the book; that I would develop the best – and worst – habits of my life, and they would shape every major decision over the next two decades, including the profession I chose, who I married, how I raise my children and, today, why I believe those choices have a meaningful purpose. However, at my freshman assembly, I had no idea what was to come. That day, Yale’s provost gave the assembled class three pieces of advice: if you are feeling tired, go to sleep. If you aren’t hungry, don’t eat. And if you are feeling homesick or overwhelmed, have a small piece of chocolate and remember that everyone else – no matter how confident or popular they seem – feels the same way. It was great advice. It was – though I didn’t know it at the time – a small tutorial in how to create habits by choosing cues Continue reading

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