Book Reviewed by Kam Williams
“This book serves as a counterpoint to [those] who luxuriate in denying the reality of America’s poor… Poverty of all colors abounds unchecked in our cities, suburbs, and rural communities…
Poverty is no longer confined by class or color; like an unrestrained deadly virus, it doesn’t discriminate… [And] we are dangerously close to cementing a permanent American catastrophe…
Our intent with The Rich and the Rest of Us Is to make [people] think about the pervasiveness of poverty, its real causation, and the threat it poses to our democracy. We want to raise awareness about poverty and discuss how best to end it—in our lifetime.”
—Excerpted from the Introduction (pgs. 10-11)
Last summer, Tavis Smiley and Cornel West embarked on a cross-country bus
tour to bring attention to the plight of the approximately 150 million
citizens living at or below the poverty level. Some segments of the black
community saw the dynamic duo’s shining a light on the crisis as a slap in
the face of President Obama, whose administration had already been the
subject of biting criticism for its bailing out of Wall Street ostensibly at
the expense of Main Street.
Now, the two inveterate firebrands share what they witnessed on that peripatetic caravan in The Rich and the Rest of Us, an eye-opening opus which discusses the burgeoning phenomenon of poverty in chilling detail via a combination of statistics and anecdotal evidence. And after making their case that time is of the essence, because the situation is rapidly deteriorating, Smiley and West close the tome with an urgent call to conscience and a dozen suggestions about what needs to be done next.
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