SOCIAL SCIENCES

Blackballed: The Black Vote and US Democracy

NYRB. 2014. 112p. notes. ISBN 9781590177693. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781590178133. POL SCI
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OrangeReviewStarFor the past couple of election cycles, the validity of voters has come into question as states pass stringent voter identification laws. Especially for African Americans, this questions democratic legitimacy. Pinckney (contributor, New York Review of Books; Out There) details how the history of the African American vote has shaped the psyche of political participation. In this short study, the author relies on scholars, commentators, and personal anecdotes to define how the ballot is a powerful evolving tool that African Americans can use to change society. He also condemns recent challenges to the vote, such as Shelby County v. Holder, actions by the conservative nonprofit Citizens United, and increased voter ID laws as ways for African Americans to be silenced. Pinckney concisely develops his arguments with this brief commentary, which is a good starting point or brush up for those who lack knowledge about the African American voting experience. For greater in-depth analysis, refer to Frances Fox Piven, Lori Minnite, and Margaret Groarke's Keeping Down the Black Vote, Richard M. Valelly's The Two Reconstructions, or J. Morgan Kousser's Colorblind Injustice.
VERDICT Recommended for political junkies and those seeking a quick study to gain a basic understanding of the importance of voting rights for African Americans.

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