What We’re Reading Now, Vol. 1

We notice that our colleagues and loved ones are increasingly seeking out books, articles, and other resources to help make meaning of our challenging times, engage in deep learning, or, in some cases, take a needed break. At the risk of worshipping the written word, from time to time the JustLead team will share out some of our current favorite items. Here is our first installment of “What We’re Reading Now” – enjoy!

Omid Bagheri Garakani: I have been reading and re-reading this piece around the use of the term “non-violent” in our rhetoric and advocacy. I’m interested in what abolitionists, past and present, have laid out for the rest of us in terms of advancing justice for communities impacted by policing and incarceration. This article unpacks the ins and outs of using the term ‘non-violent’ and how it ultimately undermines our long-term advocacy to address mass incarceration and other forms of state violence: Three Reasons Advocates Must Move Beyond Demanding Release for “Nonviolent Offenders”

Tara Ramos: I’m reading the Children of Blood and Bone series by Tomi Adeyemi because it is amazing intersection of humanity, race, magic and mysticism, colorism, survival, and genocide in the story of a group of young people trying to make their world a better place. It’s so, so good and an enjoyable read to boot. I’m also reading Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s by Tiffany Midge which is a funny book about living life as an Indigenous person in modern times. Midge has a sense a humor that exemplifies Indigenous humor and our tendencies to laugh so hard our bellies hurt.

Ada Shen-Jaffe: Sometimes, our rational minds need a little help to make meaning of massive change at every level, including the 5 levels: individual, interpersonal, organizational, community, and societal/ structural. I found this video about finding meaning in the face of loss and the grieving we experience as a result (and don’t always want to acknowledge) to be helpful, and I hope you will, too: We Are Grieving the World We Once Had

Jennifer Werdell: I am trying to immerse myself more often in Black voices and perspectives and feel so grateful – today and always – to collaborate with the brilliant KJ Williams. KJ continues to powerfully and vulnerably share from the heart, as in this week’s Legacy of White Dominance post: “America is a place of terror for black people and it’s my soul that aches. The essence which infuses my existence through this physical body is grieving. We are dying.” Today I’m also inspired and motivated by the most recent postings from john a. powell and Kandise Le Blanc.

KJ Williams: I’m currently re-reading The Ethnic Myth: Race, Ethnicity and Class in America by Stephen Steinberg. My exposure to the contents of this book helped to shape my thinking about race, power and politics in America. The interconnectivity of racialized immigration, capitalism and politics are systematically unpacked revealing our country’s process for stabilizing and maintaining inequitable outcomes. This is a dense read but well worth it.

Bonus Guilty Pleasure from Jen & Tara: When we’re looking for a way to re-energize, to be totally honest one current favorite activity is Animal Crossing: New Horizon. Plenty has already been written about the soothing properties of this game. There’s no discord and you are in control of your days and goals, making it a wonderful antidote to our current, scary reality. ANCH provides a brief moment of escapism while still encouraging you to build infrastructure, create community, and tend to your relationships and environment – all lessons we can take back into our work.

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