This year, we’re rounding up some of our top picks that our team members read this year. These are some of the excellent books that have been featured in our newsletter’s SGO Shares section in 2021. For more recommendations, make sure to sign up for our DEI newsletter, and also check out the 2021 DEI Book Club list.
Felicia’s Pick: Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Maree Brown
Emergent Strategy is a wonderful book designed to explore human relationships to change. As a facilitator, I’m inspired by the concept of emergent strategy: “strategy for building complex patterns and systems of change through relatively small interactions.” The author offers a very accessible way to enter into dialogue around this idea, as well as other topics such as identity, change, liberation, and more. I highly recommend checking this out!
Vienna’s Pick: Caste by Isabel Wilkerson
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson was interviewed on the podcast Armchair Expert talking about her new book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, and I downloaded the ebook before the interview even ended. In this eye opening work, Ms. Wilkerson states that caste is the bones of our society and race is the skin. Through her research, we realize that the caste position that we’re born into in current-day America is more immutable than anything else we face, and just what kind of tragic toll that takes on us all. The prose of the book is simultaneously lyrical and devastating. She has the ability to slice open our culture and lay it all bare for us to see. Excitingly, Deadline reported, “Ava DuVernay is set to direct, write and produce her first feature film for Netflix, an adaptation of [the] NYT bestseller.” This is a must-read.
Fatima’s Pick: Disability Visibility by Alice Wong
I added this book to our 2021 DEI Book Club list because I and so many of us have so much work to do in unpacking the ways we practice and internalize ableism. This book beautifully centers the stories of people with disabilities and their experiences while reminding us that people with disabilities are not a monolith. This book has led me to The Disability Visibility Project, an online community dedicated to creating, sharing, and amplifying disability media and culture. I’ve learned that even within a field in which we often talk about identities, privilege, and power, we don’t always talk about disability. Holding myself accountable to do better.
Rachel Murray’s Pick: Feminism is for Everyone by bell hooks
It’s hard to express in words just how important this book is. If you’re feeling intimidated by reading books about feminism, this is a perfect place to start. Written in 2000, it’s a quick read at 138 pages. What I love about this book is how it takes the sting out of the irrational fear that feminism has anything to do with hating men. This book is about how we all (men included) benefit from a feminist world where everyone is treated equally and fairly. Here are some of my favorite quotes:
- “Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.”
- “Feminist thinking teaches us all, especially, how to love justice and freedom in ways that foster and affirm life.”
- “We knew that there could be no real sisterhood between white women and women of color if white women were not able to divest of white supremacy, if feminist movement were not fundamentally anti-racist.”
Rachel Sadler’s Pick: Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
We’ve often reckoned with the modern feminist movement being largely white and un-inclusive of people of color. Mikki Kendall argues that meeting basic needs such as food security, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, and earning a liveable wage are feminist issues that have been erased from a movement designed to increase privilege for the “idealized” feminist. She contends that current feminism focuses on those with the most while further marginalizing those with the least. In essence, contemporary feminism serves as means of achieving white, patriarchal standards of representation and success, as opposed to rearticulating a system that serves the basic needs of humankind.