The Next Chapter·Like This? Love That

If you liked Why We're Polarized by Ezra Klein, you'll love The Skin We're In by Desmond Cole

The Next Chapter columnist finds a Canadian counterpart to the international nonfiction book.
The Next Chapter columinst Vish Khanna is a musician, journalist and radio personality. (CBC/Sinisa Jolic)

This segment originally aired on Oct. 31, 2020.

Why We're Polarized by American journalist and author Ezra Klein is a nonfiction book that analyzes political polarization in the United States.

The Next Chapter columnist Vish Khanna has read Why We're Polarized and says if you enjoyed that book you should check out the Canadian nonfiction book The Skin We're In by Canadian journalist and activist Desmond Cole.

The Skin We're In critically explores life in Canada as a Black person. It was published in February 2020 and it became one of the bestselling books in the country.

Why We're Polarized by Ezra Klein

Ezra Klein is an American journalist, blogger and political commentator. (Lucas Foglia, Avid Reader Press)

"I do follow Ezra Klein's tweets and his work. He is one of the co-founders of the Vox Media Network, which is ostensibly a truth-telling media enterprise that is rather left leaning, but also rather evenhanded.

"Something about the previous Obama presidency really galvanized conservatives. But what Klein gets into are historical case studies. He cites surveys that were conducted in the mid- to late 20th century, where people were asked whether they were conservative or liberal. 

Politics has become this competitive blood sport, as opposed to this holistic enterprise that's supposed to be for the good of all of us.​​​​​

"What he found is, in the mid part of the 20th century, no one cared. And now people really care: people are very entrenched in this sort of mob mentality where it's all about winning. 

"The question his book poses has really plagued me. I feel that in the last few years, the last decade in particular, political discourse has changed. Politics has become this competitive blood sport, as opposed to this holistic enterprise that's supposed to be for the good of all of us."

We talk to Ezra Klein about his new book, Why We're Polarized, about the roots and consequences of the extreme vitriol and partisanship seen in today’s politics. 23:59

The Skin We're In by Desmond Cole

The Skin We're In is a nonfiction book by Desmond Cole. (Doubleday Canada, Chris Young/Canadian Press)

"This book has a similar kind of pedagogical, anthropological and historical slant. It attempts to illuminate Canada's true colours in terms of its racist history and present — particularly in its treatment of Black people and the media negation of these issues.

"He goes through instances in Canada during the year 2017 where there has been some racial violence or prejudice directed at Black Canadians by the police in particular and other institutional figures — and how that is enabled by the media and how they cover these issues. 

This book has a similar kind of pedagogical, anthropological and historical slant. It attempts to illuminate Canada's true colours in terms of its racist history and present. ​​​​​​

"There's some media culpability both books in terms of the stories we are going to tell and how we are going to tell them. It's about how those decisions impact the whole population in terms of what they know, how they behave and how they process information."

Vish Khanna's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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