MSNBC political analyst Zerlina Maxwell acknowledges that the title of her debut book of political commentary–The End of White Politics: How to Heal Our Liberal Divide (Hachette, July)–“sounds like a pretty bold statement. But from the beginning of America, we've been doing white identity-focused politics; we just didn't call it that. We called it politics.” Yet, according to Pew Research and census data, America is soon going to be majority nonwhite, “and that's going to change how we do politics. So I'm trying to get people to rethink their perspective on certain issues.”
Maxwell–who is also co-host of Sirius XM’s "Signal Boost”– will moderate the Adult Book & Author Dinner, live online from 5:30–7 p.m. at the BookExpo Facebook page. The panelists are United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo; bestselling author Carmen Maria Machado; U.S. Representative for Minnesota Ilhan Omar; and speculative fiction writer Rebecca Roanhorse. Maxwell is “excited to see how the conversation develops among one of the first Muslim members of Congress, the first Native American poet laureate, two fiction writers, and a political operative. It's a pretty cool mix of folks.”
As a child, Maxwell’s scientist father nicknamed her “Little Miss Questions.” Fittingly, she grew up to earn a law degree from Rutgers University, become a speaker and writer on policy and culture issues, and work on the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Although Maxwell had previously been in meetings with Hachette to brainstorm book ideas, The End of White Politics was born of a 2018 Politicon panel entitled “What Now, Liberals?” in which Maxwell was a participant.
“Politicon is a bizarre event with a mix of people from all over the spectrum of politics–Ann Coulter, Dennis Rodman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Alyssa Milano. I'd participated in this panel two years in a row, and both experiences were similar. But it was right before the midterm elections and we were analyzing what Democrats needed to do to win back the House, the Senate, and the White House. There was a lot of aggressive, burning energy in the room–a lot of booing and hissing and yelling. I said, ‘Look, the people that you guys need to win elections look like me. So booing me, or black women who want their perspectives considered seriously, isn't really the way to go.’”
It turned out that also in that audience was Hachette executive editor Krishan Trotman–who suggested that expanding on some of the ideas that she’d put forward on the panel was the book Maxwell needed to write.
Maxwell agreed. The End of White Politics she says, “is turning the way we think about politics on its head, but it seems so natural to me–because I'm coming from the perspective of a black woman [while] most of the time, the people who talk and write about politics are white men. What I'm hoping to do is to expand it, so the rest of us can have our say. It's a very current book, but it's looking forward to the next 25 years.”
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