Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home

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Overview

From the heroic lawyer who spoke out against Clarence Thomas in the historic confirmation hearings twenty years ago, Anita Hill's first book since the best-selling Speaking Truth to Power.

In 1991, Anita Hill’s courageous testimony during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings sparked a national conversation on sexual harassment and women’s equality in politics and the workplace. Today, she turns her attention to another potent and enduring...
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Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home

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Overview

From the heroic lawyer who spoke out against Clarence Thomas in the historic confirmation hearings twenty years ago, Anita Hill's first book since the best-selling Speaking Truth to Power.

In 1991, Anita Hill’s courageous testimony during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings sparked a national conversation on sexual harassment and women’s equality in politics and the workplace. Today, she turns her attention to another potent and enduring symbol of economic success and equality—the home. Hill details how the current housing crisis, resulting in the devastation of so many families, so many communities, and even whole cities, imperils every American’s ability to achieve the American Dream.

Hill takes us on a journey that begins with her own family story and ends with the subprime mortgage meltdown. Along the way, she invites us into homes across America, rural and urban, and introduces us to some extraordinary African American women. As slavery ended, Mollie Elliott, Hill’s ancestor, found herself with an infant son and no husband. Yet, she bravely set course to define for generations to come what it meant to be a free person of color. On the eve of the civil rights and women’s rights movements, Lorraine Hansberry’s childhood experience of her family’s fight against racial restrictions in a Chicago neighborhood ended tragically for the Hansberry family. Yet, that episode shaped Lorraine’s hopeful account of early suburban integration in her iconic American drama A Raisin in the Sun.  Two decades later, Marla, a divorced mother, endeavors to keep her children safe from a growing gang presence in 1980s Los Angeles. Her story sheds light on the fears and anxiety countless parents faced during an era of growing neighborhood isolation, and that continue today. In the midst of the 2008 recession, hairdresser Anjanette Booker’s dogged determination to keep her Baltimore home and her salon reflects a commitment to her own independence and to her community’s economic and social viability. Finally, Hill shares her own journey to a place and a state of being at home that brought her from her roots in rural Oklahoma to suburban Boston, Massachusetts, and connects her own search for home with that of women and men set adrift during the foreclosure crisis. 

The ability to secure a place that provides access to every opportunity our country has to offer is central to the American Dream. To achieve that ideal, Hill argues, we and our leaders must engage in a new conversation about what it takes to be at home in America. Pointing out that the inclusive democracy our Constitution promises is bigger than the current debate about legal rights, she presents concrete proposals that encourage us to reimagine equality. Hill offers a twenty-first-century vision of America—not a vision of migration, but one of roots; not one simply of tolerance, but one of belonging; not just of rights, but also of community—a community of equals. 
 

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“An eloquent continuation of her giving voice to the invisible, the voiceless, the undocumented, the hopeless and, yes, the all too literally homeless.” —Patricia J. Williams, The Nation

“This ambitious book provides just as dignified and well intentioned a performance as the one she gave at those hearings.” —Megan Buskey, The New York Times Book Review

“Hill superbly articulates the nuanced spaces inside the home where gender inequities might be present, and outside the home where gender and race disparities create barriers to housing stability. She concludes with a call to US leaders and citizenry to proactively engage as partners for a more just society. Summing Up: Recommended. All academic levels/libraries.”—Choice

"Serious readers of all kinds, especially those interested in current affairs and social policy, will appreciate a book that is both highly readable and deeply analytical.”—Library Journal 

“In the first sweeping history of Parks’s life, Theoharis shows us a long-time activist committed to fighting white supremacy from her earliest days. From underground investigations of white-on-black rapes in rural Alabama, where no law respected or protected black people, to her work alongside Robert Williams, Malcolm X, and Queen Mother Moore, Rosa Parks not only sat down on the bus; she stood on the right side of justice for her entire life.”Julian Bond, chairman emeritus, NAACP

“With extraordinary grace and clarity, Anita Hill weaves the story of her family with that of other American families struggling to find and define homes for themselves. What emerges is a powerful story of our nation’s ongoing quest for equality of opportunity, viewed through the eyes of the people who have been deeply engaged in that quest. Beautifully written, elegantly seen, compellingly argued.”—Robert B. Reich, author of Aftershock

“It has taken an astute author to find the real Rosa Parks. . . . Parks was no accidental heroine. She was born to it, and Theoharis ably shows us how and why" —Kirkus Reviews 

“Her book, lucid about law, lively with smatterings of history and reminders of cultural markers, may open that conversation.”—Publisher's Weekly

“Combining the sincerity of memoir and the rigor of sociology, Anita Hill looks at home as a physical space, but also as a microcosm of American society. The women profiled in this engaging and moving book illustrate the challenges of living in America as a raced and gendered person while simultaneously demonstrating the beauty of resistance and the triumphs of family, community, and faith. Hill connects the dots between the home-making efforts of African Americans just after Reconstruction and the heartbreaking (and enraging) consequences of the subprime mortgage scandal. After reading this book, you will never see a house as just four walls and a roof. It is a dream and we, as Americans, are the dreamers.”—Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow

“Anita Hill’s bravery, intellect and commitment to justice galvanized a generation of women. If that weren’t enough, it turns out she’s also a wonderful story-teller. Re-Imagining Equality will change your ideas about home, race and gender—and it’s also great fun to read.”—Peggy Orenstein, author, Cinderella Ate My Daughter

"In a book that is rigorous and heartfelt, sharply analytical and deeply moving, Anita Hill examines the idea of what 'home' means to Americans. Bringing to bear her formidable skills as a scholar of American law, history, and culture, Hill has produced a personal narrative that reaches across color and class to explore how our family homes and our national home are inextricably linked to how we understand achievement, opportunity, and equality."—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University 

“In her new book, Reimagining Equality: Stories of Race, Gender, and Finding Home, Professor Anita Hill has written a sobering and compelling book about the plight of woman historically and now. This book is a must read for anyone who is committed to gender equality, and will be invaluable to those who are trying to understand many of the burdens that women, black and white face, in their everyday lives. An easy read, this book has both tragic and triumphant stories and covers the life of women through slavery, and those who now live in the Obama era. They remind us that we still have to come to grips with issues of race and gender, and that we need to re-imagine the question of equality for all. I recommend it with great enthusiasm and excitement about its value to a large audience of readers.”—Professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr., author of The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Race, Class, and Crime in America

Megan Buskey
…dignified and well intentioned…
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
Hill (Speaking Truth to Power) addresses the prime mortgage debacle, specifically how "wning a home, and thus acquiring this piece of the American Dream has become increasingly difficult for people of color and single women," and presents an indictment of subprime and predatory lending. Hill looks at the influence of the OYOH (Own Your Own Home) campaigns of the early 1930s and at the role of government and private developers in impeding black home ownership, even as "home became a powerful symbol of race and gender advancement, the great signifier of our belonging and independence." The experiences of two women (one in Los Angeles, the other in Baltimore) link race to both "the gender dynamics of subprime lending practices that enabled the spread of predatory loans" and to law as a "string of lawsuits filed against banks" by civic entities (e.g., Illinois, Baltimore). The unanswered "pivotal question for all of us" remains: "What can our leaders do to ensure that the home remains an integral and achievable part of the American Dream?" Hill calls for a "Home Summit," a public conversation about the housing crisis, its impact on communities, and its effect on achieving equality. Her book, lucid about law, lively with smatterings of history and reminders of cultural markers, may open that conversation. (Oct.)
Library Journal
In the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis, Hill (social policy, law, & women's studies, Brandeis Univ.; Speaking Truth to Power), who became famous overnight 20 years ago for speaking of sexual harassment in the Clarence Thomas hearing (not mentioned in this book), here writes compellingly on the topic of home and just what it means in America. In an approach that is both sweeping and engaging, Hill examines the role of gender and race in access to housing and the accompanying opportunities. She brings to bear her considerable skills as a scholar—the slim volume is chockablock with relevant case law and trenchant arguments regarding social policy—while invigorating her scholarship with compelling narratives from her own family's history, from the lives and work of important historical figures (from Abigail Adams to Nannie Helen Burroughs and Ida B. Wells), and from contemporary American women affected by the housing crisis. VERDICT Serious readers of all kinds, especially those interested in current affairs and social policy, will appreciate a book that is both highly readable and deeply analytical.—Rachel Bridgewater, Reed Coll. Lib., OR
Kirkus Reviews

Intriguing exploration of the social construct of "home" and its relevance to gender rights and racial equality.

Hill (Social Policy, Law, Women's Studies/Brandeis Univ.;Speaking Truth To Power, 1997) fuses elements of memoir, legal studies, history and polemic in this compact work. She suggests that the ongoing housing crisis is the latest cruel twist upon the celebrated "American dream" of home ownership, and "a tragic turning point in the search for equality in America". Hill examines a variety of narratives, including her own family history as the great-granddaughter of a slave. This leads to a chilling account of the lynching era in the Jim Crow South, which ironically strengthened black communities, who "shared a collective interest in avoiding racial violence." The author emphasizes the transformative roles of African-American women, who felt compelled to "establish their place in the communities where they settled, and thereby advance the race." While early black leaders like Booker T. Washington stressed the connections between achieving a home and a fuller citizenship for blacks in the early 20th century, suffragists like Nannie Burroughs were criticized for "promoting black women's independence from black men." But Hill looks as far back in American history as Abigail Adams to underscore that American women's understanding of the potency of home as a space for protection and social advancement transcended color and class. Yet this seemingly remained out of reach; Hill notes, for example, how the New Deal's Home Owners' Loan Corporation actually "gave its financial blessing to segregated neighborhoods," and how "postwar housing policies... affirmed racial segregation and the cult of domesticity." The author examines disgraceful attempts by Wells Fargo and other banks to promote high-risk subprime home loans in beleaguered minority communities.

Thoughtful and disturbing examination of slippery ideas, rendered in powerful prose.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807014431
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 9/4/2012
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 391,975
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Anita Hill
Anita Hill is a professor of social policy, law, and women’s studies at Brandeis University. The youngest of thirteen children, she grew up on a farm in rural Oklahoma. In 1980, Hill received her JD from Yale Law School. After working in private practice and for the federal government in Washington, D.C., she joined the faculty of the University of Oklahoma College of Law. Hill is the author of Speaking Truth to Power, in which she detailed her experience as a witness in Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings. She writes and lectures widely on issues of race and gender equality. 

From the Hardcover edition.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 17, 2014

    I Highly Recommend This

    I highly recommend everyone reading this piece of work by Anita Hill. Anita takes no prisoners in putting this piece of work together. This is an excellent book and should be read by everyone.

    William B. Turner
    Author

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2011

    Insightful, thoughtul and moving...

    This book pretty much just changed the way I think about so many things. I am definitely richer for the experience.

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