Last year we shared a list of books employees can read together if they’re thinking of starting or continuing a DEI book club at work. This year we’ve updated our list with new books that may support you and your team in discussing issues related to identity, privilege, allyship, media, and policy change.
Here are 10 hand-picked DEI-related books to read in 2021:
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
By Isabel Wilkerson
In this book, Wilkerson explores the ways in which society creates caste systems that impact behaviors, outcomes, and ultimately the trajectory of people’s lives. Whether in Germany, the United States, or India, the book shows us how hierarchical structures in various parts of the world negatively impact our health, culture, and politics, and the need for change.
Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own
By Eddie Glaude Jr.
Glaude re-visits some of Baldwin’s greatest interviews, stories, and lessons to highlight the ways in which racial relations between Black and White people have suffered for so long. Focusing on stories around Black resistance and white retrenchment, we’re offered another opportunity to decide “what we must ask of ourselves in order to call forth a new America.”
Disability Visibility: First Person Stories from the Twenty First Century
Edited by Alice Wong
An anthology consisting of essays that celebrate and honor stories of a diverse group of individuals with disabilities. This book also comes with an awesome guide that might be supportive to you and your team as you read and discuss various topics explored in the book.
What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat
By Aubrey Gordon
In What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat, Gordon moves away from “the recent wave of memoirs and quasi self-help books that encourage readers to love and accept themselves” and pushes for authentic fat activism. This book forces us to reflect on our culture and systems and how they’ve negatively impacted the experience and livelihood of plus-sized people. The author advocates for ending legal weight discrimination, giving equal access to health care for plus-sized people and ending anti-fat violence.
The Engagement: America’s Quarter Century Struggle Over Same Sex Marriage
By Sasha Issenberg
While same sex marriage is now legal in the United States, this book gives us a detailed narrative of how long and hard it has been for same sex couples to exercise this human right. The author takes us on a 25+ year journey highlighting the role that local activists, government, churches and hedge funds all took in the struggle over legalizing same sex marriage.
Image Control: Art, Facism, and the Right to Resist
By Patrick Nathan
This book is great for employees interested in understanding how we consume media and images, and their impact on human interactions. In an era where many of us are now working remotely or within a hybrid model, it is very easy to share content on our platforms without critically examining how it may be impacting us and our colleagues. The author leaves us with ways we can ethically engage with the world and each other.
By Cathy Park Hong
A blend of memoir, cultural criticism, and history, Cathy Park Hong helps readers understand what racialized consciousness in the United States feels and looks like through her lens. As a Korean immigrant growing up with shame and depression and then finding poetry and friendship as support systems, Hong is honest with her story and speaks truth to power.
Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body, and Spirit
By Mary-Frances Winters
The first book of its kind, Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body, and Spirit tells us how and why ‘Black people are tired of being tired’. From defining racism to discussing the mental and psychological effects of racism to detailing the ways that racism continues to create negative outcomes for Black people, Mary-Frances Winters wants allies and justice seekers to be re-inspired and awakened to the fact that “intergenerational fatigue is tearing at the very core of a whole race of people who are simply asking for what they deserve.”
Based on research but told as a novel, Melanie Ho describes the challenges women face when told to “lean in.” The book explores the ways in which gendered biases and narratives contribute to the gender gap as it relates to pay, promotion and being in the workplace. Ho leaves us with individual and organizational tips on how to create a workplace culture that allows employees to thrive.
Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the Workplace
By David G. Smith and W. Brad Johnson
Research shows that women are more likely to receive unequal pay, experience sexual harassment, and unfair treatment when it comes to being promoted in the workplace. Using research and a practical guide, Good Guys explores the ways in which men can be allies to women by realizing that gender inequality isn’t just a “women’s issue.’’
This book is packed with actionable items, real-life examples exploring ways to be inclusive, and tactics upper management can implement to foster an inclusive environment. Amber shares personal stories and helps us figure out what to do next with our DEI efforts in the workplace.
If you’re looking for additional inspiration, check out our book list from 2019!