One of my goals post-election was to become more knowledgeable, more attuned, more woke about marginalized communities. And how do we learn? We read. I read. Everything and anything I can get my hands on, sometimes too late at night when I should be sleeping.
When I started in Teach for America, we were given an extensive reading list prior to our training. Not only articles and interviews and chapters of books, but short videos and recommended movies were also on the list. The reading list took me months to get through after I graduated, as I was working part-time and planning my move to Philadelphia (and didn't have wifi at my apartment since my lease was ending soon), so I spent a lot of time at the local library. I completed the list in its entirety.
Few others in my TFA "class" did the same, and it was laughed off my senior staff as well as new recruits. I was hurt and appalled by the lack of commitment to knowledge and to the work.
Knowledge is what makes us better. So this is me doing better and continuing to stretch.
So several months ago, I began with Across that Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change by Senator John Lewis. Senator Lewis was an integral member of the Civil Rights Movement. He is integral today, his commitment and tenacity is inspiring. I wonder how he, at age 21, felt as a Freedom Rider. At 21 I was not so brave or noble and don't feel that I even could be now at age 27. So I read, so I learn, so I try in my own way. He also wrote a graphic novel series that I am dying to get my hands on from a friend who purchased it.
Some other books I have read recently (and I generally buy books for my Kindle or borrow them from the library, so sorry there are no pictures, but this post isn't about pictures):
When We Rise: My Life in the Movement by Cleve Jones If you've seen the movie Milk, you saw Emile Hirsch's portrayal of Jones' involvement in Harvey Milk's rise to local office. After reading this book, I feel pulled to learn more about Jones' work relating to the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service We are not so far removed from the struggle of safe and legal abortion. This account of the years before Roe brought up thoughts in my mind that I hadn't previously entertained. What does it mean to care for others? What happens when healthcare is provided by laypeople? What can be provided without the medical institutions that be?
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance A look at poverty in coal country. Ultimately an interesting book, but I want to expand my reading list in this area to learn more.
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond Footnotes and references make up a quarter of this book, so imagine my surprise when I finished it so quickly. Milwaukee is the subject of study in this book, but as I read I imagined Philadelphia as the setting, because it truly cannot be so different in the struggle of the residents and the barriers they face.
Reading is how I understand, and there is a world out there to understand beyond a book. But books have plenty of power as incendiary devices.