Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"California is America's multicultural tomorrow," declares Maharidge, coauthor of And Their Children After Them, which won a 1990 Pulitzer Prize. So he aims to sketch the "California that is bewildered and trying to adjust," by focusing on four characters over the past four years: a Latina lawmaker, an immigrant Chinese college student, a black sheriff's deputy and an increasingly conservative white suburbanite. His book is worthy but flawed. Maharidge preachily declares at the outset that immigration is less the problem than "unbridled multinational capitalism." His major characters hardly cross paths, making the narrative somewhat disjointed. Maharidge charges that Latino and Democratic lawmakers let Governor Pete Wilson shape anti-immigrant sentiment by refusing to acknowledge white anxiety or to criticize white employers who benefit from cheap labor. He suggests that the campus climate at UC-Berkeley is not separatist but rather reflects the transition to a new multicultural mix. He notes that the huge sums now being devoted by California to prison construction might be better diverted to steer youth from crime. He urges a search for common ground in the press, at the workplace and at schools. Echoing commentators like Todd Gitlin and Michael Lind, Maharidge urges a focus on inequality rather than on ethnic difference; he also observes trenchantly that the coming white minority must recognize that its future lies in "interdependence based on common interests." Author tour. (Oct.)
Before the year 2000, California's white population will fall to less than half the total population. By 2050 nearly half the population in the United States will be nonwhite. As Maharidge puts it, "California is America's multicultural tomorrow." This book attempts to get behind the hysteria often accompanying the immigration debate to the voices of ordinary people. Against a background of divisive campaigns to deny illegal immigrants access to public services and repeal affirmative action legislation, Maharidge, a Pulitzer Prize winner (And Their Children After Them, LJ 5/1/89) and teacher of journalism at Stanford University, seeks the opinions and experiences of Asian, black, Latino, and white Californians. While concentrating on the individual stories, he effectively weaves in history and demographics. Maharidge rejects ethnocentrism and the "melting pot," arguing that a new political center must be reachedone that recognizes common interests across racial and ethnic groups. Maharidge has written a highly readable book on an emotional and topical issue. For academic and large public libraries.Kate Kelly, Treadwell Lib., Massachusetts General Hosp., Boston
School Library Journal
YAA journalistic look at our changing population and its impact on future generations. Maharidge profiles a female, Mexican-American politician from Los Angeles; a black sheriff in Sacramento; an Asian-American student from the University of California at Berkeley; and a white community activist who lives in Orange County. Each of these individuals provides a unique and varied perspective on the immigrant experience. Although they envision different solutions to the problems accompanying immigration, all are hopeful of resolving the conflicts in a peaceful and workable way. Through their stories, readers begin to see how and why differences occur and even develop some understanding of the immigrants' situations. In the latter half of the book, the author discusses the political climate and legislation that has developed around this issue. He recounts the process by which Proposition 187, a bill that denies non-emergency medical care and education to illegal immigrants, was passed in California. Maharidge writes in a clear, readable, and evenhanded style. One feels, after reading this book, that although working through problems associated with our changing demographics won't be easy, it will be possible.Martha Ray, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA
Pulitzer Prize winner and Stanford journalism professor Maharidge assesses the complex and melancholy condition of race relations in the state that so often proves a testing ground for America's future.
Maharidge begins with the startling fact that whites will account for less than half of California's population by the end of the century. Most of the country sees racial division along white-black lines, but blacks are only the fourth-largest group in California, with Latinos second (and growing most rapidly) and Asians third. This demographic profile will fit the nation as a whole within a few decades, since California is the port of entry for immigration that will inevitably spread eastward. To find the human element within the statistics, Maharidge focuses on four Californians who routinely encounter the politics of race: a Latina legislator, a white suburban community activist, a Chinese-American undergraduate at Berkeley (where 41 percent of freshmen are Asian and affirmative action is a matter of bitter controversy), and a black deputy sheriff who runs a mentoring program for poor youth. The book's core is an account of the successful campaign for the anti-immigrant ballot initiative Proposition 187, which Maharidge describes as "a peaceful white riot" in reaction to the Mexican immigrants on whose cheap labor the affluent suburbs rely. A self-described liberal, he lacerates ethnocentrists who give the right easy targets and decries the failure of progressives to channel working people's anger against each other into a movement against an "unbridled multinational capitalism." Despite grounds for pessimism in the persistence of residential segregation, Maharidge sees hope in the fact that in much of the public sphere, especially the workplace, Californians generally get along well. He also sees the children of today's immigrants assimilating into America's materialistic culture just as previous waves of newcomers did.
A perceptive and sane study.