By Ellen McGirt
June 22, 2017

Summertime is the perfect time to kick back and expand your mind – or your corporate library -with some good reads. So, I asked some raceAhead experts to help.

The question was simple: What book would you recommend to someone seeking to better understand the diverse world around them? For this column, I asked corporate librarians, academic experts and D&I practitioners for their best advice. They did not disappoint.

Suggestions are still trickling in, so I’ll update the column later today. If you like, I’ll also make this a semi-regular feature, and tap other folks, like artists, journalists and entrepreneurs for their personal favorites.

But for now, free your mind, and the rest will follow.

Race and Immigration

  • Patrice Rankine, University of Richmond School of Arts and Sciences Dean recommends Jeff Chang’s We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Re-Segregation. “This book addresses the problem with diversity and issues of campus climate. It also focuses on how those two things fit in with Black Lives Matter and addresses some framework for hope for how we move forward.”
  • Rankine also recommends The Faithful Scribe by colleague and journalism professor Shahan Mufti. Mufti draws on his personal experiences to capture the story of Pakistan, the world’s first Islamic democracy, and its relationship with America. “The issues of Muslims in America and immigration are themes in the book that were not as prevalent a few years ago when the book was published, but they have become much more important to talk about and discuss now,” says Rankine.
  • Francisco Gago-Jover, Spanish professor and dean of the class of 2021 at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., recommends Make Your Home Among Strangers, by Jennine Capo Crucet. “I found the story of Lizet (a first generation Cuban-American college student), the main character, very compelling, as she struggles to balance her new life in college, with the expectations her parents have, and her own expectations,” he says.
  • Bernard Coleman, the Global Head of D&I for Diversity at Uber echoed the choice of Whistling Vivaldi (link appears blow), and added two more. Of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Tatum, he says, “this book opened my eyes on racism and racial identity. It’s a good primer for folks who are starting their D&I journey.”
  • White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson,“talks to our nation’s racial divide and illustrates how deep those vestiges run. I read this book right before the 2016 presidential election and tied together one of the many reasons why our candidate lost,” he says.
  • Tara de Souza, from Goucher College, offered a selection from their summer reading list. “Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, is an incisive and thorough look at the prison industrial complex and the way it targets the most vulnerable members of society,” she says. Goucher is currently only one of a few colleges in the US that offers Bachelor’s degrees to currently incarcerated students. Learn more here.

How Bias Works

Disabilities

  • Mary Beth Wynn, head of HR at Jellyvision, an employee benefits technology company, recommends The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida. “Not only does it provide incredible insight into how a person with autism experiences the world, it was a great reminder for me that everyone has their own unique set of emotional needs that may present very differently in behavior from how I might behave, and empathy for that difference is important,” she says.
  • Sarah Rose, an Associate Professor of History and the director of University of Texas at Austin’s Minor in Disability Studies, recommends Cece Bell’s, El Deafo, “a fantastic graphic novel that explores the author’s experience of what it was like to suddenly become deaf and how she turned her awkward body hearing aid into a superpower that helped her integrate into the school community.”
  • She also recommends Corbett Joan OToole’s Fading Scars: My Queer Disability History, calling it a jargon-free book of lyrical essays exploring life as a queer disabled person and parent. “Corbett OToole has played a key role over the disability rights movement over the past 40 years,” she says.

Bonus: Fiction!

  • Kellie Raffaelli, director of Michigan Technological University’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion, has three fiction recommendations – The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick, Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan and Kindred, by Octavia E. Butler. Her one one non-fiction selection is Waking Up White, by Debbie Irving. All of these books give the reader an opportunity to view the world from a different perspective. Once we see the world from someone else’s viewpoint, we begin to include them in the decisions we make, especially decisions that affect everyone,” she says.

Want to start a raceAhead reading club thing? Hit me back.

 

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